Quincy Canon Lawyer Tackles Defrock Duty

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald [Quincy MA]
August 1, 2004

The popular pastor of St. Ann's parish in Quincy is headed to Rome to take part in one of the Roman Catholic Church's most delicate tasks.

Monsignor Robert P. Deeley, a canon lawyer, is being loaned to the Vatican agency that will handle the defrocking of priests. Deeley's specific job at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith over the next year will be helping to work through a backlog of cases involving allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

"I've been asked to do a task by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop O'Malley and I'm doing it," Deeley said.

Asked if he considered the assignment a weighty one, Deeley said: "When asked to do something in the service of the church, it's always important."

He said he was leaving a "wonderful" assignment at St. Ann's.

Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley noted his decision to send Deeley to the Vatican in an interview in this week's edition of the archdiocese's newspaper, The Pilot.

"This is the way we are trying to contribute as an archdiocese to get more resources in the Vatican, so at least at that end the process will move," O'Malley said.

In late June, O'Malley told reporters from the Herald and The Boston Globe that a shortage of resources at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was hampering the removal of offending priests.

Deeley, a respected teacher of canon law, is one of two U.S. priests headed to the Vatican to help address the problem.

Monsignor Francis J. Maniscalco, spokesman for the bishops conference, said the priests were picked because they have specific expertise in the disciplining of priests.

The Vatican congregations "depend on outside experts" at times, Maniscalco said. "The Holy See asked for some help. Some bishops said they could spare people for a limited time."


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