January 11, 2005

Victim advocate, diocese split

The Arizona Republic

Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 11, 2005 12:00 AM

One of the nation's leading advocates for the victims of clergy abuse says she was fired Saturday when officials in the Diocese of Phoenix learned that she had been married outside the church.

Jenny O'Connor, who has led the diocese's Office of Child and Youth Protection since its founding in April 2003, was the key person in charge of working with victims of abuse by Catholic priests and preventing further abuse. She has been praised for her work by the executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' youth protection office and by several of the diocese's abuse victims.

Diocesan officials, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters, declined to answer any questions about O'Connor's departure. They were not available late Monday to explain their position on marriage. advertisement

The office will be filled by current staff until a replacement can be found.

O'Connor, in an interview late Monday afternoon, said she was let go for getting married in a civil ceremony that the Catholic Church does not recognize as legitimate. Catholic teaching specifies that marriages involving Catholics must be performed in the church.

O'Connor said her husband is dying of cancer, so their wedding had to take place more quickly than a church wedding could be arranged.

It took place during the Christmas break.

Posted by kshaw at January 11, 2005 11:43 AM