January 25, 2005

Family upset at decision to clear accused priest



January 25, 2005

The Moraitis family was angry nine years ago when they complained to church officials that the Rev. Brian Brinker acted inappropriately toward their 14-year-old son during a trip to California. Now their feelings have turned to outrage after they learned Monday that the Vatican has cleared the priest's return to ministry.

"It's just another thing that they do, every time they say they are going to do something good and make some reforms, nothing happens," said Matthew Moraitis, who is now 22, adding that it took several years for him to put the incident behind him. He wants assurances that Brinker, who was his confirmation sponsor and a longtime family friend, will not work with children again.

Moraitis and his parents expressed their anger after reading a news report that Bishop William Murphy is sending a letter to local Catholics updating the status of Long Island's clerical abuse cases, including Brinker's. Murphy, whose letter will be published Wednesday, writes that all 14 cases sent to the Vatican have been reviewed, resulting in eight priests being defrocked, three ordered to face church trials and two being cleared because charges against them were "unsubstantiated." No action was taken in the other case because of the priest's illness.

Diocese sources have confirmed that Brinker is one of two priests whose alleged misconduct was found to be unsubstantiated. Diocese officials would not say whether he will be returned to active ministry.

Brinker, 47, who has never spoken publicly about Moraitis' claims, was unavailable for comment Monday.

Posted by kshaw at January 25, 2005 01:26 AM