'Clergy Alert' Angers Advocates
By Dan Horn
May 21, 2007
Victim advocates blasted the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on Monday for failing to notify parishioners about a national "clergy alert" involving two priests accused of abusing children.
The alert focused on a Dallas priest who recently lived in the Cincinnati area and a Youngstown priest with no apparent ties to the archdiocese.
Church officials say the clergy alert is a routine notice sent to all U.S. dioceses and did not involve priests or accusers from Cincinnati. They say they did not keep the notice secret and were not protecting the suspended priests.
The flare-up over the alert is the latest example of the lingering distrust between victims’ groups and church officials in the wake of the clergy abuse scandal, which erupted more than five years ago. It also suggests both sides are frustrated by one of the byproducts of the scandal: Suspended or defrocked priests who are not charged with crimes and no longer answer to the church.
"This is part of the dilemma for the church," said Mary Edlund, chancellor of the Diocese of Dallas, home to one of the suspended priests. "You still have individuals like this living in society, so you can understand the concern."
Victims’ groups say the church still could do more. They say publicizing the clergy alert would have shown parishioners the church is serious about protecting kids from accused priests.
"We’re upset about the lack of warning," said Dan Frondorf, co-leader of the Cincinnati chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "At a minimum, they should just let people know where they are."
In this case, though, church officials say they don’t know.
The two priests …amp;quot; Kenneth Roberts, of Dallas, and Richard Castillo, of Florida …amp;quot; are suspended because of misconduct. They are barred from ministry and forbidden to present themselves as priests, but both are suspected of breaking those rules.
Roberts worked as a cook for a few years in Norwood at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, a Catholic organization not affiliated with the archdiocese. Center leaders say he did not serve in a priestly role and was not involved in ministry. It’s not clear how long he had been there.
They say he left about a year ago and they don’t know where he went.
"He has not been involved in any activities at the center," said Tom Leibel, the center’s managing director.
Edlund said Roberts is believed to move around the country, staying with friends he met while on the speaking circuit years ago. Roberts, author of the book "From Playboy to Priest," has denied abusing children and has won fans among some conservative Catholics for advocating strict adherence to the Ten Commandments.
Castillo was suspended from the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee and barred from contact with children.
The clergy alert states that Roberts has been performing "home Masses" and Castillo has done work that "put him in direct contact with children" …amp;quot; both violations of their suspensions.
Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, said the alert was sent to priests and posted on the archdiocese’s web site. He said it was not more widely circulated because it did not involve archdiocese priests.
He said the complaints against the two priests did not originate in the archdiocese and there was no indication either priest was living in the area.
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