Three Central Mass. Priests Defrocked after Decades-old Sex Allegations
By Bronislaus B. Kush
Telegram & Gazette
March 5, 2013
|Three former Central Massachusetts priests, David Blizard, Thomas Kane, and Robert A. Shauris have been "laicized" or defrocked by the Vatican (T&G FILE PHOTOS)|
The Vatican has "laicized," or defrocked, three Central Massachusetts Roman Catholic priests, who had been accused of sexual improprieties.
Bishop Robert J. McManus said that, as a result of the Vatican's actions, David Blizard, Thomas Kane, and Robert A. Shauris "are no longer in the clerical state."
According to chancery officials, the Vatican's Congregation of the Faith decided to oust Mr. Blizard from the priesthood. Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI, before stepping down as pontiff last Thursday, accepted the "voluntary laicizations" of Mr. Kane and Mr. Shauris.
Chancery officials said that the three men may no longer function in any capacity as priests.
The Vatican made the decision to strip the three men of the priesthood late last year but held off announcing anything until the period allowing for any appeals expired.
"I ask the Catholic community to join with me in prayer for healing for anyone who has been abused by these men or anyone in the Catholic Church," said Bishop McManus. "Allow me to echo the poignant words of Cardinal Francis George at the meeting of cardinals in Rome on Monday that 'The wound is still deep in their hearts and as long as it's with them it will be with us.' May we never lose sight of this."
The bishop urged that anyone who has been harmed by a member of the clergy in any way to contact the diocesan Office of Healing and Prevention at (508) 929-4363.
Mr. Shauris, who was accused of molesting children in the 1980s, has been on leave from the Diocese of Worcester since 1991.
The diocese, in 2002, settled a civil case involving Mr. Shauris that was brought by a Derry, N.H., man and a Deerfield Beach, Fla., man.
The two charged that Rev. Shauris engaged in acts of nonconsensual sex with them in the 1980s, when they were students at St. Bernard's Catholic High School in Fitchburg.
Mr. Shauris, at the time, was assigned to the school and was a music teacher. He was not specifically named as a defendant in the lawsuit and a stipulation of dismissal in the case was filed July 15, 2004.
In a 2002 interview with the Telegram & Gazette, one of the plaintiffs said the sexual abuse incidents occurred at a residence used by several priests off South Street in Fitchburg.
He said he was shown pornographic films and given alcoholic drinks, including Black Russians. The sexual abuse included fondling and other sexual acts.
He said the sexual improprieties occurred from 1983 to 1985 when he was 14 or 15 years old.
The man said a number of teenage boys hung around the residence and that some actually lived there with the priests.
Mr. Shauris was also named with a group of other priests in a confidential settlement agreement of a 1993 lawsuit by a man who accused Mr. Kane of molesting him for several years, beginning when he was 9.
The agreement, obtained by the Telegram & Gazette, absolved Mr. Shauris.
The abuse allegedly took place at the House of Affirmation in Northbridge, a treatment center for priests with sex abuse and other problems which was co-founded by Mr. Kane.
The facility closed in 1989.
Mr. Shauris, a Worcester native, studied for the priesthood at St. John's Seminary in Boston and was ordained in 1974 by Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan.
He was assigned to St. Mary Parish in Uxbridge before being appointed in 1978 to the faculty at St. Bernard's.
Mr. Shauris later taught at St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic High School in Worcester before he joined the staff at Anna Maria College in Paxton in 1991.
He also served for a time as a part-time faculty member at Curry College.
Mr. Kane was removed from the ministry in 1993 by then Bishop Timothy J. Harrington for sexual misconduct that occurred in the 1970s.
He was ordained in 1969 and was in residence at several parishes, including St. Mary's in Uxbridge and St. Joan of Arc in Worcester, while he continued his studies in psychology.
After his assignment at the House of Affirmation, Mr. Kane served, beginning in 1992, as an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Gardner
Meanwhile, Mr. Blizard was removed from the ministry in 1988 by Bishop Harrington after local church officials determined that the allegations made against him were credible.
Mr. Blizard was ordained in 1974 and served at the following parishes: St. Roch in Oxford, Our Lady Immaculate in Athol, Christ the King in Worcester and Holy Angels in Upton.
Chancery officials said he was in residence at various parishes when he was assigned to the Catholic School Department from 1983 to 1988.
Another diocesan priest, Thomas Teczar, was laicized in 2011.
He was found guilty of sexually molesting a young boy in Texas, where he is now serving jail time.
Bronislaus B. Kush can be contacted at email@example.com