Grand Bay Catholics have threatened to take protest action on Sunday in solidarity with their parish priest, Fr. Reginald Lafleur, who has been sent on “administrative leave” by head of the Roman Catholic church in Roseau, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire.
Bishop Malzaire took the action after a woman, who is referred to as ‘Jane Doe’ in correspondence obtained by DNO, wrote to him alleging that she was the victim of abuse by the priest 19 years ago while he served in Portsmouth.
As a result, Bishop Malzaire has sent her to Trinidad & Tobago for therapy, opening what many say is “a can of worms.”
Catholic faithful in Grand Bay say they view Bishop Malzaire’s action as dictatorial and are asking for further review and consultation to avoid “unpleasantness.”
“Our parish priest is not going anywhere, how can you take actions before getting all the facts…19-21 years ago and now she coming with that allegation,” residents who gathered outside the Catholic Church on the evening of June 7, 2013 stated.
They have vowed to take “all the necessary action” to vindicate and clear the name of their parish priest.
“We have issues surrounding us; we have issues surrounding our parish. We know what is in the air at the moment and what our parish priest means to us. Tonight we are here in solidarity with Fr. Lafleur. He is the one who is hurting the most and we are standing with him. My brothers and sisters the situation is grave. We don’t know his future and he can’t even tell us what his future is we do not know. Our bishop has the final say,” parishioner Armour Thomas told the gathering.
On the morning of June 7, 2013 Fr. Lafleur celebrated his “final mass” and amidst tears said farewell to a parish he has pastored for the last 2 years.
“We don’t know what he (Bishop Malzaire) is going to do on Sunday and we know by word of mouth he has asked Fr. Lafleur to go on leave. We are in a battle and we need to pray and ask for God’s intervention,” Thomas, who is a member of the parish committee, said.
The people have vowed to “take all actions” on Sunday June 9, when Bishop Malzaire is expected to go to Grand Bay to say the 7am mass where he will reveal his decision on the matter to the congregation and then depart for Jamaica.