February 14, 2005

Society appeals to Vatican for help

Scranton Times Tribune

By Chris Birk TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER 02/14/2005

Calling their suppression by the bishop of Scranton a "groundless and unlawful decision," members of the embattled Society of St. John in Pike County have appealed the decree to the Vatican, according to a society fund-raising letter.

In late November, the Most Rev. Joseph F. Martino issued the formal decree of suppression, cutting diocesan ties with the six-year-old public association of the faithful. In a front-page letter in the Nov. 25 edition of the Catholic Light, Bishop Martino outlined his rationale for the decision, citing "acts of commission and omission" regarding sexual abuse allegations and increasing financial stability.

Catholic canon law gives diocesan bishops full discretion to erect -- and eradicate -- public associations of the faithful. It also allows the Society of St. John an avenue of recourse.

The fund-raising letter was provided by Dr. Jeffrey Bond, a vocal critic of the society. Dr. Bond planned to operate a Catholic college at the Shohola property, an endeavor ultimately quelled by the Diocese. ...

In March 2002, a former St. Gregory's student filed a John Doe civil suit in U.S. District Court against two society priests, claiming he was sexually abused by the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity and the Rev. Eric Ensey.

Along with Bishop Timlin and other clerics, the Diocese of Scranton is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Posted by kshaw at February 14, 2005 06:59 AM