VATICAN ACTS ON PRIESTS ACCUSED OF ABUSE
By Dan Andriacco
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati
February 21, 2014
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has acted on the cases of two priests of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati accused of child abuse, removing Daniel Pater from ministry permanently and restoring Rev. David F. Reilly to active ministry.
Pater, who has been on administrative leave since 2003 because of sexual abuse of a minor, has been permanently removed from ministry by the Vatican and directed to “lead a life of prayer and penance.” Although technically he remains a priest under the Vatican decision issued on January 21, 2014, Pater will never again be permitted to celebrate Mass in public, administer the other sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present himself as a priest. Those same prohibitions were in place during his administrative leave.
“I hope that this decision will bring some measure of closure and healing to all those harmed by Daniel Pater’s actions,” said the Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati. “As Archbishop, I deeply regret that any representative of the local Church has ever harmed a child under our care. One of our most important priorities in the Archdiocese is to provide a safe environment for our children.”
Pater was put on leave after admitting to sexually abusing a teenage girl in the 1980s and 1990s. Under the Archdiocese’s Decree on Child Protection as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter and Norms for the Protection of Children and Young People, a priest who is credibly accused of abusing a child, no matter how long ago, must be put on leave while due process continues.
The USCCB norms also require that any cleric known to have offended against minors must be permanently removed from ministry. The Vatican decision found that Pater was guilty of that crime. If a cleric determined to have offended in this way does not himself ask the Vatican to return him to the lay state, the diocese normally can begin a canonical (church law) process that ultimately might involve a church trial. Since Pater was serving the Vatican as a diplomat at that time, however, the Vatican handled the entire process after he was put on leave.
Pater was associate pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Kettering from 1979 to 1982, when he went to Rome for studies. He served in the Vatican diplomatic corps for the rest of his priestly career. In 1993, after one of his victims came forward, he was brought home to the Archdiocese and required to undergo counseling before returning to the Vatican. He was also subjected to restrictions on being in the company of minors.
Fr. Reilly was put on administrative leave in August 2006 after an accusation that he engaged a minor in inappropriate behavior with sexual overtones in the 1970s. He has now been restored to active ministry after a church court ruled that he was not proven guilty of the alleged offenses. None of the judges of the three-member tribunal were priests of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Their decision was affirmed by the CDF. Fr. Reilly is thus free to exercise his priestly ministry.
The status of clerics credibly accused of child abuse is detailed on the Archdiocesan website at http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/protecting-children/resources-and-publications/status-report-on-clerics-accused-of-child-abuse/
Archbishop Schnurr urges anyone who has been abused at any time by an agent of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer) to contact Sandy Keiser, LISW, the Coordinator of Ministry to Survivors of Abuse of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, at 513-263-6623 as well as the victim’s secular legal authorities. The Archdiocese also will alert the prosecuting attorney of the victim’s county, as it does with every report of child abuse that it receives.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati is the 38th largest Catholic diocese in the country, with almost 500,000 Catholics, and has the sixth largest network of Catholic schools in terms of enrollment. The 19-county territory includes 213 parishes and 113 Catholic primary and secondary schools.