France is considering a request to extradite a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting Inuit children in Canada, local media reported Friday.
The Foreign Ministry confirmed that the request to extradite Joannes Rivoire is being processed by the Justice Ministry, news channel BFMTV reported.
The 92-year-old priest is currently living in an elderly care home in Lyon. A dual national, he lived for more than 30 years in Canada, where he has a fresh arrest warrant issued since February. Another arrest warrant was issued between 1998 and 2017 for sexually assaulting three minors. The exact number of victims allegedly abused by Rivoire is not known.
In recent media interviews, Rivoire maintained his innocence.
The request for extradition comes in the wake of Pope Francis’s visit to Canada last month where he asked for “forgiveness” for the abuse of children by some of the church’s members.
As part of its assimilation policy, more than 150,000 Indigenous children separated from their families were brought to government-sanctioned schools run by the Catholic Church between 1870 and 1996. A truth and reconciliation commission described the schooling system as “cultural genocide” for trying to erase indigenous identities. The children were beaten up by the clergy and sexually assaulted in the schools.