Priest from Local Diocese Defrocked

By Paul Giannamore
The Times Leader
June 17, 2006

Steubenville - A Catholic priest from the Diocese of Steubenville who spent time in a Wyoming prison on a sexual indecency charge has been removed from the priesthood.

The diocese issued a release Friday stating that Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree April 7 that Anthony J. Jablonowski "has been dismissed from the clerical state."

The decision came to Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of the Steubenville Diocese from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Conlon communicated the decision to Jablonowski June 13.

"Jablonowski is no longer considered to be a member of the clergy and, as such, cannot exercise any priestly functions or present himself as a priest. He currently resides in Washington County, Ohio," the diocese stated in a release.

Conlon had maintained that Jablonowski could not function as a priest since he returned to Eastern Ohio after serving a prison term that stemmed from accusations of sexual abuse while he served as a priest in Wyoming. Bishops, however, may not remove a priest from the priesthood. Such decisions are made by the Vatican.

He agreed to a plea in April 2004 for taking indecent liberties with a teenager and had been sentenced to 15 months to seven years in prison.

He returned to a farm in Waterford, Ohio, in the spring of 2005. Jablonowski had come to Waterford in 1991 from the Cheyenne, Wyo., diocese to establish a religious order called the Carmelite Missionaries of Mary Immaculate on the farm.

He is a registered sex offender in Washington County and, as of Friday, still listed his address as the Carmelite farm.

Conlon referred Jablonow-ski's case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in the Vatican on July 18, 2003.

Conlon has said the Carmelite Missionaries of Mary Immaculate has no official standing in the Catholic Church.

The 69-year-old Jablonowski had been accused in Wyoming of leading bizarre rituals that involved blindfolding men, hanging them upside-down and whipping them while cords were tied around their genitals.

Investigators said Jablonowski claimed the rituals were supposed to make the men become closer to God through prayers, but the victims said the rituals were more sexual than religious.

The Diocese of Steubenville said the decision of Pope Benedict XVI is final and there is no appeal to the decision.


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