Defrocking of Priest Requested
Diocese Seeks Vatican Action Following Sexual Abuse Charges

By Beth Miller
News Journal [Wilmington DE]
October 27, 2006

Officials of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington confirmed Thursday that they have asked the Vatican to remove from the priesthood the former Delaware priest arrested last week on charges of sexually abusing a Syracuse, N.Y., boy.

Diocese spokesman Robert G. Krebs said the diocese made the request to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith last Friday, the day after the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca, 77, was arrested and charged with several counts of sexual abuse and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Syracuse police say DeLuca confessed to molesting the boy, now 18, over a five-year period. He was arraigned Wednesday, according to Assistant District Attorney Kari Armstrong. He is scheduled to appear in Syracuse City Court on Nov. 13, Armstrong said.

DeLuca was removed from public ministry and forced to retire in 1993, when allegations of sexual abuse arose while he was a priest in Delaware.

"Removal from ministry is just that -- removal from a public role," Krebs said Thursday. "But in the eyes of the church you're still a priest until you're laicized."

Laicization -- what some people call "defrocking" -- can be requested by a priest, bishop or diocese, Krebs said. The process can take months, he said.

Krebs could not say Thursday if the Wilmington diocese has ever requested a laicization or if there were any other such requests pending.

DeLuca was a priest in Delaware for 35 years, then moved to Syracuse in 1993 after being removed from ministry here. He has not returned phone messages left by The News Journal.

Contact Beth Miller at 324-2784 or


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.