Three Former Priests Lose Ordination Priveleges

Associated Press State & Local Wire
August 16, 2002

OMAHA, Neb. — Three Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse can no longer publicly offer Mass, Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss announced in the archdiocese newspaper Friday.

Curtiss has placed Anthony A. Petrusic, Thomas J. Sellentin and John C. Starostka on "administrative dismissal," meaning the men can no longer present themselves as priests, wear clerical attire or be referred to as "father," The Catholic Voice reported.

The Rev. Michael Gutgsell, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha, told the newspaper that since the three men are retired and health was an issue with two of them, Curtiss did not completely remove the men from the priesthood.

The men will still receive a pension, Gutgsell said.

Gutgsell did not immediately return a telephone call made by The Associated Press on Friday evening.

Gutgsell told The Catholic Voice that the decisions can be appealed. Otherwise, the action is effective immediately and for life, he said.

Friday's announcement was the first public disclosure of allegations against Starostka, who retired in June after serving as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Omaha. The newspaper did not say what Starostka was accused of doing.

Petrusic served the Omaha diocese from 1969-90. He had been offering Mass in Florida, but officials of the Archdiocese of Miami said he was removed from his duties in April after the Omaha Archdiocese reported the allegations.

Sellentin was removed as pastor of parishes in North Bend and Snyder last April. Gutgsell said at the time the priest had sexually abused boys at four parishes in the 1960s and 1970s.

Curtiss also on Friday announced the formation of a task force to help him set up the archdiocese Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, as called for during a national conference of bishops in June.


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