2 Priests Leave Because of New Sex Policy
By Don Munsch
July 2, 2002
Two priests have left parishes in the Diocese of Amarillo as a direct result of the new sexual abuse policy passed by American bishops at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Dallas in June.
Monsignor Harold Waldow, vicar for clergy for the Diocese of Amarillo, said the reverends Dennis Boylan, pastor of Holy Family Church in Nazareth and Holy Name Church in Happy, and Neal Dee, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Groom and St. Mary's Church in Clarendon, resigned because of the new policy, which prohibits priests from serving in ministry if they have sexually abused children in the past.
Boylan resigned Saturday and Dee resigned Friday, Waldow said.
A total of six priests have left the diocese this year.
In addition to Boylan and Dee, Monsignor Orville Blum, pastor of St. Anthony's Church in Hereford, and the Rev. Ted Podson, pastor of St. Francis Church, recently left their posts, but for reasons other than the new sexual abuse policy, Waldow said. Blum, who was on administrative leave, resigned Friday, and will retire from active ministry as of Monday.
A former Alamo Catholic High School student made an allegation against Blum. The student alleged the incident occurred in the 1970s, according to a letter Blum sent to parishioners in May.
Podson - who was not a diocesan priest, but a religious community priest - left June 20, and resigned from a chaplaincy post at the William P. Clements Jr. Unit.
Two other priests left earlier this year.
The Rev. John Anthony Salazar-Jimenez resigned his pastorship at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tulia. Before coming to Tulia in 1991, Salazar-Jimenez served nearly three years in prison in California for sexually abusing children.
The Rev. Richard Scully, formerly pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Dumas, resigned from the parish and asked for retirement based on his medical condition, Waldow said.
Waldow said he did not know whether other priests would be leaving parishes and would not say whether any priests might be leaving because of the new policy. He said he would not know whether a priest would be leaving until he received a resignation letter.
The new policy, approved by bishops in mid-June in Dallas, calls for the removal of a priest or deacon who ever sexually abused a minor.
Waldow said the diocese is doing what it can to fill in for departed priests, and with the redistribution of manpower the diocese is succeeding in covering most assignments.
"We're sending priests in to cover the weekend liturgies," Waldow said. "We're using our permanent deacons to help supply for the weekend Eucharists in parishes until pastors are appointed."
Redistributing may mean, for example, one priest covering two parishes, he said.
"It's also going to mean that we're going to have to make reassignments," he said. "There are going to have to be some moves made."
ERROR[Basic syntax error] in:<*ERROR[Basic syntax error] in:rb0>Waldow said that the diocese receives applications almost weekly for priest positions locally, and the diocese can recruit priests from other areas.
"Obviously, we're struggling," he said. "We struggle with providing the Eucharist for our Catholic communities at the present time until we get into the process of long-range pastoral planning. What I'm saying with long-range pastoral planning (is) our Catholic communities can be guaranteed the availability of the Eucharist and other sacraments, which are vital to Catholic life."
Waldow said deacons can help fill the void.
How long does it take to become a deacon?
"Approximately five years, and that depends on the program," said Deacon Floyd Ashley of the Diocese of Amarillo.
Bishop John W. Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo was unavailable for comment. Yanta is on vacation, touring in Europe, Waldow said.
Waldow said communities are grieving from the priest departures.
"I would say it's much like a death in the family and the process that an individual as well as family members go through in dealing with all the stages of grief," he said.
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