December 24, 2017
By Tim Funk
Bishop William Curlin, who presided over the rapidly growing Catholic Diocese of Charlotte from 1994 to 2002, died Saturday at Carolinas Medical Center. He was 90.
The cause of death was cancer, which he had battled for years.
Curlin was known as a pastoral bishop and as a longtime friend and spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa. In 1995, he brought the diminutive nun with a towering reputation to Charlotte for an ecumenical service that drew 19,000 people to the old Charlotte Coliseum. She also installed in Charlotte some of her sisters from the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order she founded in India to serve the poorest of the poor.
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Curlin’s tenure was not without controversy. He was bishop at a time when the Catholic Church in the United States and around the world was rocked by scandal at widespread reports of priests sexually abusing children. The Charlotte diocese never approached the volume of cases of sexual misconduct uncovered in Boston and many other dioceses. But N.C. members of SNAP – Surviviors’ Network of those Abused by Priests – and others criticized Curlin for not being transparent about priests and other men accused of sexual misconduct who were allowed to work in the diocese without the public knowing about their past.
In one of the most publicized cases, Mark Doherty was hired to teach at Charlotte Catholic High School despite a warning to Curlin from the Boston archdiocese about allegations against him. Doherty lost his job after the case came to light.
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