Monday, May 28, 2007
CLEVELAND'S SUSPENDED PRIESTS
From the Plain Dealer:
Fourteen Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing minors remain in administrative limbo more than five years after some of them were suspended by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.
The priests, living from Medina and Barberton to Bradenton, Fla., are among hundreds of U.S. priests awaiting Vatican action that will determine the next step. In the end, the men could be declared innocent, or defrocked, though there is a wide range of possibilities in between.
The suspended priests receive their salaries - $26,340 for clerics with 20 years' experience - and hospitalization but may not "exercise any public acts of priestly ministry," according to the diocese. Some have obtained jobs. Others are not working.
The diocese does not monitor the priests.
The diocese said its options for watching suspended priests are limited.
"The diocese has no legal authority to restrict the freedom of those who are on administrative leave or those who have left the priesthood," the church said in a written response to questions.
But advocates for children said the church has a moral responsibility to track the suspended priests, some of whom have multiple accusations against them.
"In a perverse and ironic way, the bishops sometimes treat abusive priests like abuse victims," said David Clohessy, spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "They essentially want to throw money at them and hope they keep quiet."
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