Diocese: Iowa pastor asked to be released from priesthood

Des Moines Register

Katherine Klingseis, kklingseis@dmreg.com January 26, 2015

The Iowa pastor accused in a “decades-old case of sexual abuse” asked Pope Francis to release him from priesthood, the Diocese of Des Moines said Monday.

Pope Francis removed Howard Fitzgerald from priesthood Jan. 19 after the Vatican received findings from a diocese review committee. The committee found credible evidence last year that Fitzgerald sexually abused a minor in a “decades-old incident.”

Fitzgerald voluntarily asked Pope Francis to “release him from the priesthood and sacred celibacy,” the Diocese of Des Moines said in a news release Monday.

Fitzgerald worked at churches in central and western Iowa for 35 years. He was placed on indefinite leave in June from his most recent positions at St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Simpson College in Indianola and at Immaculate Conception in nearby St. Marys.

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