Lancaster Priest Placed on Leave after Sexual Allegation
By George Barnes
Telegram & Gazette
January 26, 2014
WORCESTER — The pastor of a Lancaster parish for the last 20 years has been placed on leave by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester after a 40-year-old allegation of sexual misconduct was made against him.
Bishop Robert J. McManus announced to parishioners Sunday that the Rev. Edward P. Lettic had been placed on administrative leave because of what the bishop described as a credible allegation of misconduct.
Rev. Lettic has been pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Lancaster since 1993 and has served as a priest in the diocese since he was ordained in 1973. Bishop McManus said it is the first misconduct report made against Rev. Lettic in his 40 years with the diocese.
Before he became pastor at Immaculate Conception Church, he served as an associate pastor at St. Joan of Arc in Worcester, St. Denis in East Douglas and St. Joseph in Auburn. He was also chaplain at Westboro State Hospital.
Bishop McManus said a man recently came forward with the allegation against Rev. Lettic. The allegation is being investigated with oversight by the Diocesan Review Committee.
"Because of the serious nature of the allegation, and consistent with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, I must relieve Father Lettic of his duties as pastor of the parish and remove his faculties as a priest," he said.
Diocese spokesman Raymond Delisle said the investigation of the allegation will follow a canonical process that will be reviewed in Rome at the Vatican. A report of the allegation will be made to the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. He said part of the process will be that Rev. Lettic will be given legal representation as the case is reviewed.
Should Rev. Lettic be found guilty of the allegation, the result would be his removal from the clergy or being ordered to serve a life of prayer and penance.
"The Catholic Church is often referred to as a family of God," Bishop McManus told parishioners at the Lancaster church. "As your bishop, I have a responsibility for the spiritual care and well-being of this family. That is why I come to this church personally to share this troubling news."
The bishop said that this week he will appoint a temporary administrator to run the church until a new pastor can be named.
Mr. Delisle said the last time an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was made against a priest in the Worcester diocese was in 2006. The Rev. Paul J. Doherty was removed as pastor of St. Mary Church in Uxbridge after that allegation, which involved conduct in the 1970s.
In July 2011, the diocese put the Rev. Lowe B. Dongor — the Diocese of Worcester's first Filipino priest — on administrative leave of absence and relieved him of his duties as associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Fitchburg and from any public ministry.
He was later arrested and charged with possessing child pornography and stealing from the parish. Bishop McManus asked the Vatican to defrock him.
Last year, Rev. Dongor was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation.