The congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate begins a procedure to dismiss Father Joannes Rivoire

The congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) announced Wednesday in Lyon (southeastern France) that it was beginning a procedure to “dismiss” one of its members, Father Joannes Rivoire, 92, accused of sexually assaulting young Inuit in Canada in the 1960s.

“We have begun a procedure of canonical dismissal because Father Rivoire stubbornly refuses to obey our order and to present himself to the Canadian justice system,” Father Gruber, provincial of the Oblates in France, told the press.

The announcement comes during the visit to France of a delegation of Inuit who have come to support an extradition request filed in early August by Ottawa against the French-Canadian religious.

Father Gruber had reserved the premiere of this announcement for this delegation which he met Wednesday afternoon.

The request of the Inuits was refused by the French Ministry of Justice, which recalled on Tuesday that, in accordance with its constitutional tradition, “France does not extradite its nationals”.

Father Rivoire, who lives in a retirement home in Lyon, was the subject of a first arrest warrant between 1998 and 2017 for sexual assaults against three minors.

A new complaint was filed in September regarding a sexual assault that occurred about 47 years ago, and a new arrest warrant was issued in August.

On Wednesday, a double meeting was held at the congregation’s headquarters in Lyon: first with the OMI leadership, then with Father Rivoire, who finally agreed to the meeting after lengthy negotiations.

At the end of the meeting, the Inuit representative Kilikvak Kabloona regretted that the person concerned had, as before, “completely denied all the allegations”.

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“He refuses to travel to Canada, citing skin problems,” she said. When asked about this, Father Gruber refused to comment, stressing that he was “not a doctor”.

The delegation includes an alleged victim and two children of another alleged victim of the cleric. The Inuits are expected to speak at a press conference scheduled for Thursday morning in Lyon.

Until now, the priest, who left Canada in 1993 after 33 years in the Canadian Far North, has never been worried.

On Tuesday, the Chancellery announced that “France is ready to respond to any request for judicial assistance that Canada may make or, if necessary, to act in the context of a denunciation of the facts that would be made, subject to examining the possible statute of limitations of the facts.