Seattle Man Permanently Removed from Priesthood

KOMO [Seattle WA]
October 4, 2004

SEATTLE - John Cornelius, who has been accused of sexually abusing more than 20 boys, has been dismissed from the Roman Catholic priesthood after Vatican authorities concurred with Seattle Archbishop Alex Brunett's recommendation.

Brunett announced Monday that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome had agreed that Cornelius "be permanently dismissed from the clerical state by the Holy Father and is no longer a priest."

The decision was made last week, but the church notified the victims and Cornelius before making the announcement, Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said Monday evening.

"When you remove someone from the priesthood, that's the most serious action you can take against a member of the clergy. I think it speaks to the seriousness of this particular case, the number of victims who came forward and the impact it has had," he said.

Cornelius lives in Seattle, although church officials are not sure where. He was not immediately reachable for comment Monday. He served in the Seattle Archdiocese from 1975 to 2002, and achieved national renown for taking in as many as 13 children. None has alleged any impropriety.

The first public allegations against Cornelius emerged in April 2002, and in May of that year he resigned from active ministry.

In the last two years, more than 20 men have lodged sexual-assault complaints against him, saying they were abused as children.

The day the Seattle Archdiocese announced his resignation, Cornelius apologized to his accusers, Brunett, his family and others in a prepared statement, saying he felt "deep sorrow" for what he had done.

Cornelius is the fourth priest in the Seattle Archdiocese to be permanently removed from ministry due to accusations of child sexual abuse. The archdiocese said it is awaiting action by Vatican authorities on six other cases.


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