May 04, 2005

Accused priests to live restricted lives

The Morning Call

By Ron Devlin
Of The Morning Call

In a dramatic move aimed at dealing with the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church, the Allentown Diocese is transferring several priests accused of sexually abusing children to a restricted facility in Schuylkill County.

At St. Francis Center in Orwigsburg, priests stripped of their sacramental duties will undergo a rigid program of ''prayer and penance,'' the diocese announced Tuesday.

The priests, who have been removed from active ministry, will reside in a secluded, locked wing of the former St. Francis Orphanage. Their movements will be monitored by a proctor living at the center.

Two priests are currently living there, the diocese said in a prepared statement, and three more will be transferred in the coming weeks.

All are elderly priests from the Allentown Diocese accused but not convicted of alleged abuses that took place decades ago. The diocese said they agreed to be transferred to St. Francis Center from other locations in the diocese.

''Ultimately, there could be more priests living there,'' said Matt Kerr, diocesan spokesman. ''However, the facility has room for only eight priests.''

Posted by kshaw at May 4, 2005 07:49 AM