Two Removed from Priesthood
Miller, Clark Found Guilty of Sex Abuse
By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
November 23, 2004
Two Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville priests, who were convicted of sexually abusing 31 children between the 1950s and 1980s, have been stripped of their clerical powers by the Vatican.
Pope John Paul II has returned Louis E. Miller and Daniel C. Clark "to the lay state," or removed them from the priesthood, the archdiocese said yesterday.
Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly informed both men earlier this month in a visit to the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange, where both men are serving sentences for sexual abuse.
"Even though it was expected, it's important for the Catholic people and the community at large to know that the Holy See (Vatican) has followed through," said Brian Reynolds, the chancellor and chief administrative officer of the archdiocese.
"The Holy Father has said there's no place in the priesthood for anyone who abused a child," he said. "We now have a specific example for that statement in action."
Neither priest had requested the action. It followed a Vatican review of a report by the archdiocese on each man's offenses and a reply by lawyers trained in church law who represented each priest.
Earlier this year, the Vatican also removed Joseph Stoltz from the priesthood because of allegations of abuse. Stoltz had requested that he be removed from the priesthood. The Vatican is still reviewing the cases of six other priests the archdiocese has removed from ministry after concluding they had committed abuse.
Mike Turner, one of Miller's victims and an active member of the victims' advocacy group The Linkup, said the news of the Vatican's action on Miller is "wonderful."
"They should have just done that about 40 years ago," he said. He cited Miller's testimony that in 1961, when Miller was first accused of abuse, then-Archbishop John Floersh denied his request to leave the priesthood.
Jeff Koenig, one of those who sued alleging abuse by Clark, said of Clark's removal from the priesthood, "I'm pleased that the Vatican took that action." But he said, as did Turner, that church officials who allowed abusers to stay in ministry should be held accountable.
Miller is serving a 30-year sentence on criminal convictions in Jefferson and Oldham counties for sexually abusing 29 children between the 1950s and 1980s.
He was also named in more than 90 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Clark is serving a 10-year sentence following his conviction last year for sexually abusing two boys in Bullitt County. In 1988 he was convicted of abusing two other boys and sentenced to 90 days.
He was also named in 19 lawsuits against the archdiocese.
Most of the lawsuits naming both priests were settled as part of a $25.7million agreement last year between the archdiocese and 243 victims of numerous priests and others associated with the church.
Reynolds said Kelly's visits to Miller and Clark were "difficult meetings."
"Neither one were particularly surprised by this result, but it's still difficult to receive the information," he said.
Kelly had kept Clark in ministry in the 1980s after learning of allegations against the priest, but removed him after Clark's first criminal conviction in 1988. Clark continued to volunteer extensively and do clerical work for the archdiocese.
Kelly had also assigned Miller as a retirement-home chaplain after learning in 1989 of allegations against him of past abuse.
He removed both men permanently from the ministry in 2002 after Catholic bishops — in the midst of a nationwide crisis over their handling of sexual abuse — adopted a policy banning any priest from ministry who had ever sexually abused a child.
But only the Vatican can make the final decision on removing someone from the priesthood.
The archdiocese prepared a report on each accused priest and forwarded them to the Vatican.
The lengthy reports described each priest's offenses, including their impact on victims and the wider Catholic and civic community. It included "assessments" of the case by Kelly and by Reynolds — acting as chief investigative officer — but did not include any request or recommendation for a specific penalty.
Reynolds said the archdiocese did not receive a copy of Miller's or Clark's legal replies to the reports, which went straight to the Vatican.
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