Vatican Defrocks Two Springfield Diocese Priests

Associated Press, carried in Worcester Telegram & Gazette
December 1, 2006

Springfield, Mass.— The Vatican has defrocked two Roman Catholic priests who had been barred from parish work in the 1990s under the Springfield Diocese's sexual misconduct policy, the diocese said on Friday.

The diocese said Pope Benedict XVI this week permanently removed Edward M. Kennedy and Alfred C. Graves from the priesthood. Both men were accused of sexually abusing minors.

"Both had a number of credible allegations of sex misconduct brought before them," diocese spokesman Mark Dupont said. "Both had been suspended. They were not allowed to present themselves as priests."

Dupont would not give details of the accusations nor would he specify the number of children who were allegedly abused.

Graves had been out of the ministry since 1994, Dupont said. There is no Massachusetts phone listing for Graves.

Kennedy was treated in a church-run psychiatric center following his resignation as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Northampton in 1991. In recent years, Kennedy lived and worked as a chaplain at the church-run Providence Place retirement home in Holyoke. He no longer lives there. A call placed to a number listed to an Edward M. Kennedy in Holyoke was not immediately returned.

Two other priests from the Springfield Diocese have been defrocked. In April, Richard Meehan was defrocked by the Vatican amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Richard Lavigne, who was accused by more than 20 men of abusing them as minors, was defrocked two years ago.

Lavigne, identified by investigators as a suspect but never charged in the 1972 slaying of altar boy Danny Croteau, was convicted in 1992 of molesting two altar boys.

Graves and Kennedy are named as defendants in lawsuits against the diocese filed by Greenfield lawyer John Stobierski, who in 2004 helped negotiate a $7.7 million settlement between the diocese and 46 victims of clergy sexual abuse.


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