January 15, 2006

Ragsdale: Priest with most allegations remains in clergy

Des Moines Register


January 15, 2006

Mary Ankenbrand and her sisters spent Christmas rejoicing at news that the Catholic priest they accused of abusing them as children finally had been removed from the priesthood.

Their vindication was premature.

George McFadden, a retired Sioux City cleric accused by at least 25 people of sexually abusing them as children, remains a priest.

Despite the fact that he has been accused of sexual abuse by more men and women than any other Iowa priest in the past 50 years, despite his admitting to his superiors that he had "committed harmful acts," despite his bishop's recommendation that he be removed from the priesthood, despite Vatican decisions to defrock other Iowa priests with fewer allegations, McFadden, 80, will die a priest.

The Vatican, citing McFadden's advanced age, last month forbade him to have any public ministry or contact with children, and ordered him to live a life of prayer and penance.

"I read that and thought it meant he had been defrocked," said Ceil Sokolowski, their mother.

When Ankenbrand learned the priest had merely been ordered to a life of prayer, she was stunned.

Posted by kshaw at January 15, 2006 12:29 PM