September 27, 2017
By Gil Corsey
They stand convicted of committing terrible sins, but pedophile priests are still being paid by the Catholic church in Louisville.
“I think it’s absurd,” Michael Norris said. “I just don’t understand it.”
Norris is one of Fr. Joseph Hemmerle’s victims, molested at age 11 at camp Tall Trees in Meade County in the 1970’s.
“This man is who I was thought is an extension of God,” Norris said. “That’s what the Catholic church taught me. And here’s God doing this to me. It really messes with your spirituality.”
* * *
Only the Pope can remove the status of a priest, but the process starts with the Archdiocese. Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz declined WDRB News’ request for an on-camera interview on the subject.
Far more often than removing a priest for molestation, the Catholic church orders him to a lifetime of “prayer and penance.” That’s the case for Rev. James Schook, convicted in Louisville in 2014.
“Priests who are directed to lead a life of prayer and penance may not exercise ministry, say mass publicly, or administer the sacraments,” said Archdiocese of Louisville Spokeswoman Cecilia Price. “They may not wear clerical garb or present themselves as a priests.”
But they can sill collect a check from the church.
“Priests on prayer and penance receive medical insurance and a reduced salary if not retired or reduced retirement benefits,” Price said.
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