Peoria: Vatican " Dismisses" Priest for Sex Charges
By Michael Miller
November 9, 2006
Peoria - A former Peoria pastor has been dismissed from the Roman Catholic priesthood by the Vatican over accusations of sexual misconduct, the diocese announced Thursday evening.
Thomas R. Miller, who is in his mid-50s, was initially accused in 2004 of having sexual contact with a minor in Bloomington in 1979. At the time of the accusation, Miller was the popular pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, 6001 N. University St. He had served earlier in his career at St. Bernard Parish in Peoria, as well as Holy Trinity in Bloomington and Schlarman High School in Danville.
The man who made the initial accusation against Miller is now in his late 30s. The diocese said more accusations followed the first. A diocesan sexual misconduct commission advised Bishop Daniel Jenky that the allegations against Miller were credible. A full investigation by the diocese followed before the case was sent to Rome.
Miller, who was ordained in 1979, is the first priest in the Peoria diocese known to have been removed from the priesthood for sexual-misconduct accusations. More than a dozen Diocese of Peoria priests have been put on administrative leave for sex-abuse allegations in the past several years.
"Thomas Miller has been informed of this grave decision in accord with the instructions received from Rome," a diocesan press release said. "A dismissed priest loses the rights, dignities and ecclesiastical offices proper to the clerical state. A dismissed priest is excluded from the exercise of sacred ministry. He cannot hold any office directed in any pastoral sphere nor perform any duties in the exercise of sacred ministry."
The decision was made by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The diocese said that the congregation considered evidence from both the diocese and Miller, and that Miller was allowed to see the evidence against him.
At the time of the accusation against Miller, the diocese said that the priest had "denied key elements of the allegations and admitted others."
Miller has 30 days to appeal the decision, the diocesan statement said, "but the dismissal from the clerical state stands pending the appeal."
In the 2004 press conference announcing the accusations against Miller, Jenky said he was aware of how "beloved" Miller was among many Peoria Catholics and that he had known Miller as an undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame.
The diocesan statement concluded by asking "for the prayers of the faithful for all the individuals involved in this case."
Michael Miller can be reached at 686-3106 or email@example.com.
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