FALL RIVER (MA)
Patriot Ledger [Quincy MA]
December 13, 2021
Three Massachusetts Catholic priests, including one from an Easton church, are barred from returning to ministry after the diocese found them each to be “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor.
According to the Diocese of Fall River, the Rev. Richard E. Degagne was suspended after allegations surfaced in 2019. He was then the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Easton.
The Rev. Edward J. Byington and the Rev. James F. Buckley were already retired and were not assigned to a parish when allegations surfaced during 2020, diocese officials said.
The Rev. Buckley was ordained in 1959, the Rev. Byington was ordained in 1970 and the Rev. Degagne was ordained in 1982. As a result of Monday’s decision, all three are prohibited from participating in church duties.
“They are not permitted to exercise any public ministry including the celebration of public Mass or of other sacraments. They may not provide spiritual direction, may not wear clerical attire, or present themselves as priests,” the diocese wrote in a statement.
“My prayers remain with any and all who have suffered sexual abuse by clergy, especially as a minor,” Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha said. “Their pain is real and long-lasting, and perpetrators must be held accountable.”