Clinton County Priest Won't Return to Ministry

By Robert Kelly
June 8, 1994

The Rev. Edwin H. Kastner, one of eight priests removed from parish work in the Catholic Diocese of Belleville amid sexual-abuse allegations, will not return to active ministry, Bishop Wilton Gregory announced Tuesday.

Kastner is the fifth of the priests on forced leave whom church officials have permanently removed from parish work. The church continues to investigate allegations against the others.

Kastner, 73, was removed in September from St. Rose Church in the town of St. Rose in Clinton County because of a report that he had sexual contact with a teen-age boy more than 20 years ago. Details of the allegation were not made public.

In a brief statement Tuesday, Gregory said a diocesan review board had recommended that Kastner continue to live "in a monitored and supervised setting."

The bishop said he had accepted the review board's recommendation and had "met with Father Kastner to inform him of my decision. Father Kastner has indicated his intent to cooperate accordingly."

Neither Kastner nor Gregory was available for comment on the bishop's statement.

None of the priests removed has been charged with a crime, but three suits have been filed against the Rev. Robert Vonnahmen, one of the eight, accusing him of sexual abuse.

The priests have been removed since March 1993, and a ninth has stepped down because of an investigation into allegations against him. None has returned to active ministry.

The Belleville Diocese had about 110 active priests before the removals began. The diocese covers 28 counties of Southern Illinois.


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