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Church Complaint Helps Others Come Forward

By Carol Ann Riha
Associated Press
May 2, 2002

Des Moines, Iowa - One man's allegations against a Roman Catholic priest who had been dead for several years led to the removal of another priest from a parish in Sabetha, Kan., according to officials with the Davenport diocese.

"In response to the first one is how we then went to the parish with this," said Irene Loftus, chancellor of the Davenport diocese.

The man said he had been sexually abused by the deceased priest, who had served at St. John's Catholic Church in Burlington in the 1960s.

"We made public that there was an allegation and invited anyone to come forward," Loftus said Thursday. "People came forward instead about Father Redmond."

The Rev. Donald Redmond, 72, a Benedictine priest, was relieved of his duties about March 1 because of 40-year-old allegations of sexual misconduct and was returned to St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kan.

Redmond had served at St. John's as an associate pastor from 1958-63 and 1965-67. He served as pastor of the Burlington parish 1974-85.

Monsignor John Hyland, the current pastor, said after he spoke of the initial allegations at Masses on Feb. 8-9, a parishioner came forward to say he had been abused by Redmond as a teen-ager.

"We reported that to the abbey and ... there must have been enough substantiated evidence that they removed him from parish ministry," Hyland said.

"Since then, the abbott also received more complaints about Father Redmond. We have received this week, myself, two more individuals coming forward and saying they were abused - one in 1959 and another in 1967."

"They wanted me to know that ... that, 'Yes, Father, that wasn't the only one. I was also,"' Hyland said. He said neither of the men wanted to go further with the complaint.

Priests from St. Benedict's Abbey served St. John's from 1890-1990, when Hyland, a diocesan priest, became pastor.

"I've been here since 1990 and nobody's ever come to me (with these complaints) ... I think probably what sparked this was the allegations that were made in Boston and other places," he said.

"I think we have to look at those times, compared to now ... Back in the 50s and 60s, we as priests were pretty much held up on a pedestal, and I think young boys at that time were definitely afraid to say anything. It wasn't right," he said.

"I think, in this whole milieu of sexual allegations across the country, it probably made them more at ease to come forward."

Hyland said no one else has come forward regarding the priest about whom the initial complaint was made.

Loftus said the allegations were turned over to the abbey.

"It's difficult to do an investigation of a deceased priest," she said.

Abbott Barnabus Senecal said he spoke at length to the man who had initially complained to church officials.

"Yes, I've investigated to the extent that it's possible," he said.

Loftus added: "If someone comes forward and is hurting, we as the Catholic Church want to respond to their hurt, regardless of any finding."

Bishop William E. Franklin and Monsignor Hyland have met with the man numerous times and are helping tend to his pastoral needs, she said.

Hyland said he and the bishop have been working with the man to form a support group for victims. They also plan to arrange for counseling through Young House, a local agency that provides a wide variety of counseling services.

"These people have carried this pain and this anger with them for a great number of years," Hyland said. "That's the reason I am here, to provide whatever assistance I can to those who have experienced this. That's what we in our diocese want to do - to reach out in comfort, to provide what help we can."

 
 

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