Man Who Sued Own Diocese for Alleged Abuse Quits the Priesthood

The Associated Press, carried in Centre Daily
April 12, 2006

ALTOONA, Pa. - A Roman Catholic priest who sued his own diocese last year for alleged abuse by another diocesan priest more than 25 years ago has left the priesthood.

John Nesbella, 43, of Lilly, Cambria County, cited criticism he got from other priests after he spoke out against homosexual priests in announcing his decision Tuesday.

"This is the end of a sad tale of how wicked so-called Catholic priests and bishops drove me and a few other priests out because we dared to speak up about the corrupt brotherhood of homosexuals in the priesthood," Nesbella told The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown for Wednesday's editions.

Rob Egan, spokesman for the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese, which Nesbella sued last February, said only, "It's a personal decision."

Nesbella sued the diocese in February 2005, alleging he was sexually abused when he was 16 at a rectory operated by diocese. Nesbella claimed he was molested by the Rev. Martin Brady, his teacher at Bishop Carroll High School in Ebensburg. Brady died in March 2003.

Nesbella said he left the church for 10 years because of the abuse, but eventually returned and decided to become a priest. He was ordained in May 2002 and had served at St. Mary's in Altoona, Holy Name in Ebensburg and Prince of Peace in Northern Cambria.

Nesbella is represented by Altoona attorney Richard Serbin, who represented 21 people whom the diocese agreed to pay $3.7 million last May to settle their abuse claims.

Bishop Adamec placed Nesbella on a leave of absence after he sued the diocese, saying then it would be difficult to conduct a thorough investigation because Brady is dead and for Nesbella to be an effective minister while he sued the diocese. The lawsuit is still pending.

"I come forward and say I was abused, and I say that homosexuals should not be ordained as priests, following the pope's instructions, and I get kicked out," Nesbella said of his leave of absence.

Pope Benedict XVI last year instructed bishops worldwide to bar men with "homosexual tendencies" from being rectors or teaching in seminaries. The letter also prohibited seminary enrollment and ordination for men who are actively gay, have "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" or "support so-called gay culture."

Men with only "transitory" homosexual tendencies must be celibate three years before ordination, the pope instructed.

Nesbella said he may try to join an Eastern rite church, which he says tend to be more conservative than the Roman Catholic Church.


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