The Franco-Canadian priest Joannes Rivoire, accused of sexual assault on young Inuit in the far North of Canada in the 1960s and sought for years by Canadian justice, died in France, his congregation announced on Friday April 12. The nonagenarian, who lived near Lyon, was ultimately never worried despite several extradition requests. Joannes Rivoire has always disputed the accusations.

The one who was seen, particularly in Canada, as the symbol of the impunity of sexual attackers within the Catholic Church, “died Thursday after a long illness,” said Father Ken Thorson of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate ( OMI), in a statement sent to Agence France-Presse.

“We understand that this news will be difficult, particularly for the survivors and their families who have advocated for him to be brought to justice in Canada,” continued Ken Thorson. “We regret that despite all efforts, Mr. Rivoire never made himself available and never had to respond to the accusations against him,” he added.

First arrest warrant in 1998

This priest, who left Canada in 1993 after 33 years in the field, was targeted since 2022 by a new Canadian arrest warrant for having sexually assaulted a child in the Canadian Arctic between January 1974 and December 1979. But, in October 2022, France had rejected the extradition request to Canada, explaining that it was a complex case and that it did not extradite its citizens.

The decision was very poorly understood in Canada, where Marc Miller, the Canadian Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, declared that it was “disappointing to see this serious injustice happening again”. Even the congregation’s exclusion procedures, targeting the French religious, failed.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), an organization which has 3,700 missionaries around the world, has always explained that it was only informed in 2013 of the existence of the first arrest warrant, issued against him in 1998 in Canada .