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  Another Local Priest Removed in Sex Case
Cleric Had Served in Parishes in Slidell, Chalmette, Houma

By Steve Cannizaro and Paul Rioux
The Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA]
March 25, 2004

Shocking some of the parishioners he once served, a Catholic priest who served at churches in Chalmette, Slidell and Houma has been suspended over an allegation of sexually abusing a teenage boy in two incidents from 1973 to 1975 while at St. Mark Catholic Church in Chalmette, the Archdiocese of New Orleans said Wednesday.

The Rev. Gerard P. Kinane, 58, a native of Scranton, Pa., until Tuesday had been performing limited priest and pastoral work at St. Luke Catholic Church in Slidell. He was placed on administrative leave and "his priestly faculties" have been withdrawn by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, the archdiocese said. Also, Kinane can no longer live on archdiocesan property, officials said.

Kinane lived part-time in the church rectory at St. Luke and also had a camper, off church grounds, in which he sometimes lived, said the Rev. Rodney Bourg, pastor of St. Luke. Kinane said Mass at St. Luke two or three times a week, and was not involved in any other church activities, Bourg said.

In Chalmette, word of the suspension stunned people in the neighborhood around St. Mark, who said they have fond memories of the priest as a friendly person and devout spiritual leader.

"I don't remember him as anything but nice," said one woman, who declined to give her name.

Kinane's suspension came after an unidentified man filed a complaint March 18, said the Rev. William Maestri, a spokesman for the New Orleans Archdiocese. The archbishop met Tuesday with Kinane to discuss the allegation, Maestri said.

The complaint alleged Kinane engaged in "sexual misconduct" with the boy while Kinane was associate pastor at St. Mark Catholic Church on Missouri Drive in Chalmette in 1973.

There are two alleged incidents, one of which was said to take place at the church and the other at a camp in the Honey Island Swamp near Pearl River, Maestri said. He said the complainant was 14 at the time.

After an initial investigation, the priest was placed on administrative leave.

The district attorney's offices in St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes have been informed of the allegations, Maestri said.

St. Bernard Parish District Attorney Jack Rowley was not available for comment late Wednesday afternoon. In St. Tammany Parish, a Sheriff's Office spokesman said the office had received the information, but would have no comment on the allegation until investigators talk to the alleged victim.

Maestri said a formal investigation will be conducted and "if there is deemed a semblance of truth to the case," it will be turned over to the Vatican.

Kinane could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Kinane served in Chalmette from 1973 to 1978, officials said. He served at St. Hilary Catholic Church in Houma from 1981 to 1985 and has been at the Slidell church since 1999, the archdiocese said. He has also served at churches in Pennsylvania and Florida, officials said.

A man who lives on Charles Drive near St. Mark Church in Chalmette said he was a student at the church school during Kinane's tenure and recalls him "as a happy, friendly guy."

"I never thought something would happen like this," said the man, who didn't want to be identified. But he said, "I have good memories of Father Jerry," adding that he sends his children to the school now.

The man's mother said such allegations against priests does not shake her faith in the Catholic Church. "The priests are not the church," the woman said. "The church is the people who come together to worship."

Parishioners at St. Luke, meanwhile, described Kinane as a quiet man who kept a low profile.

"He was not highly involved in parish life," said one woman who asked not to be identified. "The average person in the pews probably just knew him as the bald priest."

Bourg said he was "disappointed" about the allegations.

"My prayers go out to him and the alleged victim," he said.

In February, the archdiocese reported receiving five new credible allegations of sexual abuse. Those cases involved two priests who were removed from the priesthood before the allegations were made, Maestri said at the time.

Reports on those cases are now being compiled for the Vatican, Maestri said Wednesday.

The latest case brings the total number of credible allegations of sex abuse by priests in the archdiocese to 42 since 1950, Maestri said.

 
 

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