Police launch probe into use of healing fund

Published July 1, 1998

Controversy and a police investigation continue to dog Keewatin Bishop Gordon Beardy over a $5,000 grant from a healing fund to pay for flying lessons for a survivor of sexual abuse.

Detective William O’Lynick of the Kenora detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police said an investigation has begun into the disposition of funds raised by Bishop Beardy in last year’s Sacred Walk for Healing, undertaken to help heal sexual assault victims of former Anglican priest Ralph Rowe.

Another victim of Mr. Rowe’s abuse, Ron Risley of Winnipeg, said he was upset by Bishop Beardy’s lack of response to his complaints about the flying lessons grant, and by the national church’s immediate support of his action.

“I was in contact with the primate’s assistant, Canon Gordon Light, and he said the Primate would call when he returned from England,” Mr. Risley said. “That was … weeks ago and I’ve had no call.”

Mr. Risley contacted the Winnipeg Free Press when he learned of the flying lessons grant. He also contacted the OPP, contending the use of money from the healing fund is a breach of trust by Bishop Beardy.

Mr. Risley cites a letter to potential donors, written by the bishop, which says funds would go for counselling, holistic healing for families, visits by priests, community workshops, abuse awareness and clergy training.

The conduct of Bishop Beardy and the church hierarchy is an “insult” to other abuse victims, said Mr. Risley, a pilot himself, who paid for his own flying lessons and wonders how lessons relate to healing.

“I think they should put the money into counselling and work with people who know how to deal with abuse victims.”

The church should conduct a full inventory of all donations and expenses for the Sacred Walk for Healing, Mr. Risley said, and seek advice from professionals in dealing with sexual abuse victims before spending any more money.

In a March 27 letter to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Keewatin, Archbishop Michael Peers and Archbishop Barry Curtis of the Province of Rupert’s Land declared their “strong support” for Bishop Beardy.


  • Bob Bettson

    Bob Bettson is a Toronto freelance writer.

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