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Catholic Church in Ja 'shocked' at sexual harassment charges against former bishop — Apostolic Administrator for Mandeville

Sunday, March 17, 2019

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MANCHESTER, Jamaica — Apostolic Administrator for Mandeville, the Most Reverend Charles H Dufour says members of the Catholic Church in Jamaica are “saddened and shocked” at reports that a former bishop who once led in Mandeville was accused of sexual harassment.

"We are grieved that a man we knew to be a good man apparently is alleged to have engaged in such behaviour. Having known that his character had been deeply affected by his depression and stroke, one wonders how much this contributed to his actions,” Dufuor said in a statement.

The comment by Dufour follows an announcement on Monday by Catholic Church officials in United States that ministerial restrictions have been imposed on Bishop Gordon Bennett after the archdiocese learned of an allegation of sexual harassment of a young adult by him in Jamaica in 2006.

Read: Catholic Church bans former Mandeville bishop accused of sexual harassment

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori who announced the action in a statement said the matter was subsequently reported to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC and Bennett resigned a few months later.

However, Dufour who is also the Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston said he was told by the Apostolic Nuncio to Jamaica at the time, the Most Reverend Thomas Gullicksonn, that Bennett was resigning for health reasons.

“Indeed, Bishop (Bennett) had been battling depression and the residue of a stroke which had affected him deeply in many ways,” Dufour said in his statement, adding that he was off the island when Bennett left at the beginning of August, 2006.

Dufour added that he dealt with Bennett's sudden departure “as any pastor would do, trying to help the people of Mandeville adjust to his sudden retirement — even if people in the inner circle of the Diocese knew that he did not seem well, none of us had any idea that there were other motivating factors in his departure.”

“I learned like everybody else when Archbishop Lori of Baltimore released his statement – that there were also other reasons linked to his departure: that of an unfortunate alleged case of sexual harassment of an adult,” Dufour added.

The former Archbishop of Kingston and Bishop of Montego Bay in his statement said that the Catholic Church does not tolerate such acts with adults but remained “hopeful in the face of human failure”.

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