OTTAWA, August 12, 2002 ( - The Catholic News Service reported this week that Father John M. Huels, vice dean and professor of canon law at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, has taken a leave of absence and requested laicization after his history of sexually abusing minors was revealed.  The story prompted LifeSite to investigate the university’s record with sexually abusive priests since several other prominent abusers were known to have taught at St. Paul’s.

Huels, a prominent churchman (liturgical advisor to both the CCCB and the USCCB), left his post only after Michael J. Bland, a former Servite priest and a member of the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board for sexual abuse cases, revealed that the sexual abuse he suffered as a teen came from Huels.  However, Bland had made known his abuse by Huels in 1994 when Huels was appointed provincial (head) of the Servite religious order.  Huels left that position but two years later was hired to teach at St. Paul’s. 

Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais, who serves as chancellor of the school, told CNS that when Father Huels was hired six years ago the archbishop had not been informed of “any inappropriate behavior in his (Father Huels’) past,” nor when he was made vice dean of the canon law department. The CNS story reports that Huels has now admitted his guilt to the Archbishop.  The Archbishop’s office also noted that the Archbishop is not generally involved in day-to-day operations, including the hiring of personnel.

The case of Fr. Huels, however, is not the first time a sexually abusive priest has been hired at St. Paul’s.  A known repeat pedophile priest who had abused children in the 1970s and was sent for ‘counselling’ was hired on at St. Paul’s in the late 1980s despite the fact that the media were running with a story on his abusive past.  Fr. Barry Glendinning, was not only hired on at St. Paul’s but also shortly after became chairman of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Liturgy Commission.  In 1999 victims of Fr. Glendinning launched civil suits against him.  A report by an Ottawa Catholic researcher detailing the abuse was published in January 2000, shortly after which Fr. Glendinning voluntarily stepped down from his post at St. Paul’s.

Furthermore, as recently as this past May, the Toronto Sun was reporting that St. Paul’s University had scheduled Rev. George C. Berthold, 67, to teach a course during a summer program.  The Sun reports that Berthold decided to drop out after his past was recently exposed by Boston media. The Boston Globe reported that in November 1995, Berthold was fired from his position as dean of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., for making improper advances toward a 19-year-old freshman seminarian, including kissing him on the lips.  Part of the reason why Cardinal Law is under fire in Boston is due to his recommendation of Berthold despite his sexual abuse of the seminarian.

Following a disturbingly common pattern in both Canada and the US, these sexual predators appear to have been forced out of their positions of trust only after media reports drew public attention to the scandals. In the past, such men either left of their own accord or died in their posts. At least two other St. Paul’s professors were known for scandalous sexual impropriety and heretical teaching. 

Richard Hardy, a long-time professor of spirituality at St. Paul’s and one well regarded for his lectures on AIDS, left the school and authored the book “Men Loving Men” in which he self-identified as a practicing homosexual. 

Fr. Andre Guidon, a professor of moral theology at the university from 1961 until his death in 1993 was known the world over for his heretical teachings on sexuality.  Even an official reprimand from the Vatican, based on Guindon’s book “The Sexual Creators”, did not result in his dismissal from his Catholic teaching position.
Considering this history at St. Paul’s, as well as its reputation as a center of Catholic dissent, there are questions about whether still more scandals at the university have not been resolved because they have not received media attention.
Increasing numbers of Catholics are hoping the many revelations of church scandals will spur their bishops to see this as an opportunity for a long overdue purification of the local church and an authentic renewal of the faith.
The recent visit of Pope John Paul II to Toronto for World Youth Day produced an astonishing, widespread admiration for his constant faithfulness to church teaching. The miracle of World Youth Day should give Canadian bishops extra incentive to finally discipline or remove dissenting and misbehaving clergy, religious and laymen from positions of authority in Catholic institutions and to follow the Pope’s example of courageously teaching the truth at all times, by word, and especially, by personal example.
See the Catholic News Service coverage:

See the Toronto Sun coverage:

See the Boston Globe coverage:

See the Vatican citation of the note on Fr. Guindon’s book:

See LifeSite’s Church Scandals pages

See World Youth Day Media Miracle for amazing exerpts from articles in the mainstream Toronto press during World Youth Days.

Ottawa Catholic researcher Sylvia McEachern contributed to this report.