February 18, 2005

Some suspended priests still paid

Concord Monitor

Monitor staff

February 18. 2005 8:00AM

Last week, the Archdiocese of Boston defrocked four more priests who'd been accused or convicted of child sexual assault. There's no harsher punishment because it eliminates a priest's financial support from the church and his right to minister to people.

Here, the Catholic Church has retired or suspended accused and convicted priests, but it has not defrocked them. And some priests put on administrative leave or forced into retirement continue to receive pay and benefits from the diocese. Bishop John McCormack asked his staff in 2001 to increase the monthly allowances sent to incarcerated priests. As recently as 2003, the diocese was sending retirement pay for one suspended priest to New Mexico, where he lives with a woman who was his lover in Keene. And the Rev. Aime Boisselle, a Concord priest who resigned in 2002 in the face of abuse allegations, said last night that the diocese is helping him with medical coverage and living expenses.

"When you look at Boston, and you have priests being defrocked there, why do we not have priests being defrocked here?" said Anne Pullen of the local chapter of the lay group Voice of the Faithful. "And where are the people in the pews? The layperson in this church is saying, 'Move on. Stop talking about this.' But there is no accountability."

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, assistant to McCormack, declined to discuss particular priests' cases last night but said McCormack and the church feel a responsibility to support priests. Arsenault would not say how the diocese decides whether or how to compensate an accused priest. Incarcerated priests, he said, receive only minimal support.

Posted by kshaw at February 18, 2005 08:05 AM