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  Diocese Asks for Removal of Priest at Enders Island
Bishop Cites Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

By Kenton Robinson
The Day [New London CT]
February 18, 2005

Mystic - Bishop Michael R. Cote informed pastors of the Norwich diocese last month that he had asked the Rev. Paul Pinard, a priest residing at St. Edmund's Retreat on Enders Island, to leave the diocese because of "past, substantial allegations of sexual misconduct with minors."

That announcement was published in this month's edition of the diocese's Four County Catholic newspaper.

For the past seven years, Pinard has taught an adult-education class at St. Edmund's Retreat. His text: "To Know Christ Jesus," by Frank Sheed.

Pinard had another favorite text by Sheed, one that he used when he taught classes at St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vt., back in the '60s: "Theology and Sanity."

He also taught high school for 22 years.

Pinard could not be reached for comment Thursday. His telephone extension at the retreat, which is off Masons Island, has been disconnected.

Cote said he had asked Pinard to leave to comply with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by the U.S. Conference of Bishops in 2002 in response to widespread reports of sexual abuse of children by clergy.

"It should be understood in light of my ongoing commitment to the parents and children of the diocese to promote and maintain safe environments in the Catholic parishes, schools and institutions within the Diocese of Norwich," Cote wrote.

Cote stressed that his decision "should be understood neither as determination of guilt nor as an acknowledgement of wrongdoing."

Pinard had been living at the retreat in his retirement, said Jacqueline Keller, a spokeswoman for the diocese, and did not take part in parish work.

Pinard did, however, teach several adult education classes, celebrate Masses, hear confessions, preside over a solemn vespers and participate in a pizza party, according to South by Southeast, the newsletter of the retreat.

Other information about Pinard's background was scant Thursday night. He has a master's degree in religious education from Fordham University, and served in Rosemere, Quebec, before coming to Enders Island.

Former Norwich Bishop Daniel Hart, who retired in 2003, gave Pinard permission several years ago to move to the retreat. It was not clear when the allegations against Pinard were made or when the diocese learned about them. Cote became bishop in May 2003.

Pinard left the island immediately after being asked by the bishop, said the Rev. Richard Myhalyk, superior general of the Society of St. Edmund, an order of priests with 42 members that is based in Colchester, Vt. Pinard will be transferred to another location that was not disclosed.

Pinard was supervised while living at the retreat and cooperated with restrictions placed on him, Myhalyk said, and there were no new allegations against him.

"We believe we have taken a responsible position by placing him where he can be monitored, to be sure no future abuse occurs," Myhalyk said.

St. Edmund's Retreat was founded by the Society of St. Edmund and Enders Island became a part of the Norwich diocese in 1954. The retreat became an independent ministry in 2003.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.

 
 

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