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Saskatchewan priest faces extradition to Scotland over sexual abuse charges

A retired Archdiocese of Regina priest is facing extradition to Scotland to face charges of physical and sexual abuse while working at day and boarding schools.

Father Robert MacKenzie has been charged by Scottish authorities for abuse alleged to have happened when he held positions at the schools.

Scottish authorities obtained a surrender order from Canada’s Minister of Justice on March 22, which authorizes MacKenzie’s extradition.

A spokesperson from Scotland’s Crown Office and Prosecutor Fiscal Service said they are not in the position to provide full charges. He added full charges can only be obtained in Scotland once the accused has been indicted and appears for a preliminary hearing.

MacKenzie, 85, is still in Canada according to a spokesperson with the Archdiocese of Regina. Scottish authorities are making arrangements for medical accompaniment during his extradition and while awaiting trial in Scotland.

MacKenzie joined the Archdiocese of Regina in 1988 and retired from parish ministry in 2002.

During his time in the archdiocese he served in two Regina churches – Blessed Sacrament and Holy Trinity – before moving to St. John the Evangelist in Marquis, Sask., in 1989 and then to St. Patrick in Cupar, Sask., where he worked until his retirement.

According to a letter sent by the Archdiocese of Regina to their priests and parishes, MacKenzie worked at the two Scottish schools from the 1950s to the 1980s while a member of “a religious order in Scotland.”

The letter said the investigation began in Scotland several years ago. The archdiocese was informed of “criminal proceedings” two years ago, according to the letter.

Based on archdiocese policy, MacKenzie was moved into a retirement home at the time, where his movement and activities could be further restricted.

The letter says his faculties to minister as a priest were suspended when more information about MacKenzie’s sexual allegations was brought to light.

The letter said no allegations against MacKenzie have surfaced in communities where he’s served while apart of the Archdiocese of Regina.

“While we understand and respect the legal presumption of innocence, our primary duty in every case of suspected abuse is the protection and care of the alleged victims,” Archbishop Donald Bolen wrote.

“We are keenly aware of the devastating and life-long impact of clergy sexual abuse on victims, and the grief and intense pain experienced by those near them who are also personally affected by abuse.”

“Our hearts go out to all victims of abuse and we pledge our support in whatever ways are most helpful. We are committed to promoting the safety and well-being of every person in the communities to which we minister.”

Bolen issued a formal apology to victims of clergy sexual abuse on Ash Wednesday this year.

The Archdiocese of Regina recently introduced a program for victims to help report abuse and find victim services supports.

More to come…

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