Retired Alexandria Priest Ordered to "Life of Prayer and Penance" in Sexual-misconduct Case
By Jodi Belgard
Alexandria Town Talk
November 9, 2013
|Frederick James Lyons / Town Talk file photo|
Decades after charges of sexual misconduct hit retired Alexandria priest Frederick James Lyons, the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith in Rome has stripped him of the title of monsignor and imposed “a life of prayer and penance” on him.
Lyons, now in his late 80s, was accused of sexual abuse of minors during a period in his early life as a priest.
The Rev. Ronald P. Herzog, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria, suspended Lyons from all priestly functions in 2006. Lyons’ case was sent to Rome at that time for examination.
Herzog announced the decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in a news release issued Thursday. The diocese was closed Friday.
Lyons is prohibited from publicly celebrating or concelebrating Mass or publicly or privately administering the other sacraments, except for confession in danger of death. He may not preach or participate in or attend any public liturgical celebration. He may not wear clerical dress, in public, Herzog said in the release.
Lyons was not stripped of his priesthood.
The disciplinary action stems from allegations made by two separate people, both of whom asked for anonymity. When the story broke in 2006, Alexandria residents who knew Lyons were surprised to hear of such allegations.
“It is my duty as Bishop of Alexandria to implement this decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith,” Herzog said in his statement. “I ask for your prayers for all who are affected by these accusations: victims, their families, our church and the accused.”
Herzog also urged any victim of clerical sexual misconduct to come forward “in order that the healing may begin and justice can be served.”
Lyons was born in Astoria, N.Y. He attended St. John’s College in Graymoor, N.Y., from 1943-45, the Benedictine Mission Seminary in Newton, N.J., from 1945-47, and summer school at Fordham University in New York from 1948-51. He went to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans from 1947-52 and was ordained into the priesthood in 1952.
Lyons served as a priest at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria, St. John the Baptist in Cloutierville, St. Anthony Padua in Bunkie and Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Alexandria. He was appointed monsignor in 1962 and retired in 1989.