March 21, 2005

Home houses several priests accused of abuse

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Tim Townsend
Of the Post-Dispatch
Saturday, Mar. 12 2005

When priests are ordained in the Roman Catholic church, it is understood that
they will be priests for the rest of their lives. Only the Vatican can laicize
a priest ordained in the church. Bishops can't take away an ordained man's
priesthood, but they can take away his ability to minister in the church.

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke says eight or nine men who have been removed
from ministry after accusations that they abused minors live at Regina Cleri.
The official retirement home for priests is on the archdiocese's Shrewsbury
campus, in a neighborhood with children and day care centers. Burke says the
priests who have been removed from ministry are strictly monitored by a nun who
runs the facility.

St. Louis archdiocese officials say the priests in question fall into a
different category than those housed at Vianney and RECON, local facilities
that permanently house pedophile priests from around the country. They say the
eight or nine men at Regina Cleri abused children long ago, and the abuse may
have happened only once. Burke considers them low-risk to offend again, but
because of the charter adopted by U.S. bishops in Dallas in 2002, any priest
found to have a credible allegation of sexual abuse of minors in his past is
removed from ministry.

"While all these things are deplorable," said Monsignor Vernon E. Gardin, the
archdiocese's vicar general, "there is a degree of severity - whether it's a
one-time minor occurrence to something else. . . . You can't impose a stricter
law, because they have rights as citizens."

Posted by kshaw at March 21, 2005 11:38 AM