11/29/2013 01:50 EST | Updated 01/29/2014 05:59 EST

Joannes Rivoire, Priest Wanted On Child Sex Charges, Doesn't Know If He'll Return

A priest wanted on child sex-abuse charges in the North doesn't know if he'll return from France to face them.

"Maybe. I don't know," Joannes Rivoire said from his home in the Avignon region when asked if he'd return to Canada to face the three charges.

Rivoire seemed aware of the 1998 Canadian warrant, but didn't want to talk about it when contacted by The Canadian Press on Friday.

"I am not willing," he said.

"I am old. I am sick.

He gave his age as "something like" 83.

Rivoire hung up after about a minute and did not respond to an email.

On Thursday, RCMP in Iqaluit confirmed that they have an active arrest warrant for Rivoire going back to when he served in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, between 1968 and 1970.

Former Oblate priest Eric Dejaeger is currently on trial in Iqaluit on 69 charges of child sexual abuse alleged to have occurred between 1978 and 1982. Dejaeger was facing six of those counts in 1995 when he fled to his homeland of Belgium, where he lived for nearly 18 years before he was returned to Canada on immigration violations.

Before he returned to the country of his birth, Rivoire had a long history in Canada's Arctic. He ministered in several communities in what is now Nunavut for more than three decades starting in 1960.

He was posted to Igloolik — the same community where Dejaeger would later serve — from 1960 to 1964. From 1975 to 1993, he spent time in Repulse Bay, Rankin Inlet and Arviat along the western shore of Hudson Bay.

It's believed he left Canada in 1993.

An Oblate directory shows Rivoire now lives at Notre Dame des Lumieres. It's a facility owned by the order and used as a retreat and hotel in the village of Goult in southeastern France. The facility's website shows well-appointed buildings, including a swimming pool, on 30 hectares of land.

It's not immediately clear whether Rivoire ever became a naturalized Canadian. Many Oblate missionaries, such as Dejaeger, did.

Justice Canada officials have declined to comment on whether Canada has ever entered into extradition discussions with France — which has a bilateral extradition treaty with Canada — over Rivoire.

Extradition requests normally come from provincial attorneys general through their prosecutors, but Nunavut uses the federal Public Prosecution Service of Canada. Justice officials said Friday that service would be responsible for initiating an extradition proceedings against Rivoire.

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