February 15, 2005

Bishop plans to apologize in priest sexual-abuse case

Tri-Valley Herald

By Karen Holzmeister, STAFF WRITER

CASTRO VALLEY The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland plans this week to visit a local church and apologize for a priest accused of sexually abusing children in the 1970s.

The Most Rev. Allen Vigneron will acknowledge the suffering caused by the behavior of (the Rev.) Robert Ponciroli, an associate pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church during the late 1970s, according to a statement issued by the diocese.

Ponciroli was arrested in 2003 and faces at least six counts of child molestation.

During the service, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Grace church, Vigneron, bishop for the last 16 months, will apologize for the dioceses failure to prevent abuse and for the betrayal of trust by one of its priests, the statement read.

Vigneron heads the diocese of 540,000 Catholics in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Beginning in February 2004, Vigneron began visiting the 22 churches where 24 priests charged with sexual abuse lived during the second half of the 20th century. Seventy-two victims have been confirmed.

Posted by kshaw at February 15, 2005 08:57 AM