April 04, 2005

Hughes removes man from priesthood


Monday, April 04, 2005
By Bruce Nolan
Staff writer

Archbishop Alfred Hughes told a Belle Chasse congregation this weekend that he has permanently removed its former pastor from the priesthood after three hearing officers advised him they believed Pat Sanders sexually abused two teenagers on an overnight youth trip 12 years ago.

Hughes personally disclosed his decision to parishioners at Saturday evening Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. Bishop Roger Morin continued the announcements at all the parish's Sunday Masses while Hughes led a memorial Mass for Pope John Paul II at St. Louis Cathedral.

Hughes temporarily removed Sanders from duty in April 2004 while the Archdiocese of New Orleans conducted a detailed inquiry into the youths' claims. Since then, Sanders has been forbidden to identify himself as a priest or act as a priest, except to celebrate Mass in private.

Sanders denied the youths' allegations and has maintained his innocence in e-mail messages and in personal contacts with parishioners.

"I am devastated and heartbroken," he said Sunday by e-mail when asked to respond to Hughes' decision. "I feel an injustice has been done to me and my life's vocation has been taken away. I steadfastly maintain my innocence and will appeal this decision to the Vatican."

Posted by kshaw at April 4, 2005 05:30 AM