|Sexual Abuse Charges against Priest Deemed 'Credible'
November 22, 2009
Church of St. Patrick pastor not permitted to return to active priestly ministry
CUMBERLAND — The Archdiocese of Baltimore plans to appoint a new pastor for the Church of St. Patrick after determining that allegations of sexual abuse against Monsignor Thomas Bevan were "credible,"?the congregation learned over the weekend.
In a letter that was read to parishioners during weekend masses, the Archbishop of Baltimore announced that Bevan "will not be permitted to return to active priestly ministry in the Catholic Church" because of claims by four individuals that they were abused by Bevan in the early and mid-1970s when he was serving at parishes in Frederick and Middle River.
Bevan was removed as pastor of St. Patrick's in August, after two individuals who attended St. John School in Frederick claimed they'd been abused as minors. In the months since then, two other individuals who attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Middle River have come forward with similar allegations, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien's letter states.
Bevan has denied all of the abuse allegations. Some in the local community believe him.
"I?don't mind saying on record, when these charges came, Father Bevan told me that he did not do this, that he was innocent,"?said Chuck Erzkus, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church. "I believe my friend."
Bevan who was pastor of St. Patrick's for 12 years, served as an associate pastor at Our Lady of M. Carmel Church in Middle River from 1963 to 1974, and as an associate pastor at St. John Catholic Church in Frederick from 1974 to 1979.
Among many colleagues and parishioners in Allegany County, Bevan was known as a diligent worker who had an "ecumenical heart," said Erzkus, who partnered with Bevan for a decade to host "Lenten Dialogue" sessions.
"He pursued relationships with other churches," Erzkus said. "He also tried to promote understanding of people of faith...He simply loved this community."
The Archdiocese of Baltimore cited the U.S. Bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children & Young People" and its own child protection policies in announcing that Bevan's "faculties to function as a priest are permanently revoked." Bevan has agreed that he will no longer function as a priest, the letter said.
"I?am well aware of the pain and difficulty this news has caused the people of St. Patrick,"?Archbishop O'Brien wrote, "and assure you that my prayers and the prayers of all your sisters and brothers in faith are with each of you, as well as with all victims of child sexual abuse and their families."
Priests of area parishes will continue to minister St. Patrick's until a new pastor has been named, the Archbishop said.
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