Priest suspected of preying on Louisiana’s deaf argues end of archdiocesan support is ‘draconian’


May 14, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

In a remarkable letter filed in federal court Thursday, a priest suspected of molesting children while tending to the deaf reveals that he has continued receiving financial support from the Archdiocese of New Orleans since his 1980 removal from the ministry — and complains he’s on the brink of homelessness because the archdiocese’s recent bankruptcy filing put a stop to the payments.

The letter’s author is Gerard Howell, who served at several New Orleans-area churches, established a center for the deaf in Baton Rouge, and was removed from the ministry 16 years after his ordination over what the missive characterizes as “serious mistakes in the past.”

Howell, 80, was not named in the archdiocese’s most recent listing of retired priests who are entitled to benefits such as a monthly pension, insurance coverage and archdiocese-owned housing. Nonetheless, Howell’s emailed letter notes that in 1995, then-Archbishop Francis Schulte “promised to fully provide” for him, citing a directive from the Congregation for the Clergy, an entity in Rome that oversees diocesan priests.

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