Bishop of Charlotte to preside at memorial Mass for priest accused of abuse

Winston-Salem Journal

Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2014
Wesley Young/Winston-Salem Journal

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte will preside at a memorial Mass in Kernersville for the Rev. Joseph Kelleher, a priest who served in the Triad for a number of years and who was accused of child sex abuse in 2010 for an alleged incident more than 30 years earlier in Albemarle.
Bishop Peter Jugis will lead the service at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Wednesday morning.

Kelleher, 86, died in High Point on Aug. 20, weeks after a criminal charge against him was dismissed because of his poor health.

“The bishop always celebrates memorial Masses for priests,” David Hains, the director of communication for the diocese, said on Saturday. “Father Kelleher is a lifelong Catholic. This is the type of Mass that would be celebrated for the life of any Catholic.”

The Charlotte leader of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), David Fortwengler, called the bishop’s decision “painful.”

“I’m really disappointed and sad for the victims of Father Kelleher,” Fortwengler said. “I’m not shocked. I’m not surprised, but I sure wish they cared about the victims as much as they do about the offending priests. I certainly do not rejoice in his death. But they could certainly do it more low key without the bishop presiding.”

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