6 Priests Accused of Abuse Are out 'Left Clerical State,' Archdiocese Says
'Left Clerical State,' Archdiocese Says
By Michael Paulson and Jonathan Saltzman
June 10, 2005
The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced yesterday that six priests accused of sexually abusing minors are "no longer in the clerical state," indicating that they were either defrocked by the Vatican or had voluntarily left the priesthood.
The priests were among several dozen accused of abuse who were removed from ministry in Boston after the abuse crisis erupted in early 2002.Under church law, all credible accusations of abuse must be referred to the Vatican, which can then decide how to resolve the case or can allow dioceces to do so.
The archdiocese would not offer any details about the process by which the six accused priests left "the clerical state," but said in a statement that "loss of the clerical state means that none of these men may function in any capacity as a priest, with the exception of offering absolution to the dying."Since the abuse crisis, the archdiocese has pledged to refer all abuse allegations to state officials for possible prosecution. But most of the cases now being considered by the church concern alleged incidents said to have occurred so long ago that prosecution is precluded by statutes of limitation.
The priests who were removed from the clerical state, according to the archdiocese, are John K. Connell, Denis Conte, Peter J. Frost, John Hanlon, Richard Matte, and Paul David White. The allegations against them, according to news reports and court records, are:Hanlon was convicted in 1994 of raping an adolescent boy more than a decade earlier while Hanlon served at St. Mary's in Plymouth. Hanlon, who allegedly took boys to a nude beach and abused them, was sentenced to three concurrent life terms.
Matte, a native of Lowell, was accused in a lawsuit unsealed in 2002 of raping a 13-year-old boy while serving at St. Joseph's Church in Pepperell in the 1970s. Matte, who also served at Assumption Parish in Bellingham, blew the whistle in the mid-1980s on a Quebec priest who was extradited in 2002 to face 32 charges of molesting altar boys.
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