Bishop Places Retired Pastor from Queens on an Administrative Leave

The Tablet [Brooklyn NY]
June 2, 2007

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn has placed a retired Queens pastor on administrative leave from exercising priestly ministry after accepting a finding from the Diocesan Review Board that sufficient evidence existed of sexual abuse of minors three decades ago.

The bishop announced his decision on the status of Msgr. Nicholas J. Capua, who was the pastor of St. Luke's Church, Whitestone, from 1983 until 2005, in a letter read to parishioners there by Msgr. Sean G. Ogle, the Territorial Vicar for the Queens North Vicariate, at Masses on the weekend of May 26-27.

As a priest on administrative leave, Msgr. Capua may not present himself as a priest, celebrate Mass publicly or administer the sacraments, the letter said. He is permitted to offer Mass privately.

Bishop DiMarzio said the diocese will submit documentation on the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican for review and for "direction on further action it may wish us to take."

The letter said the allegations of inappropriate behavior referred to a time when Msgr. Capua was assigned to another parish of the diocese. He has denied the allegations.

In his letter, the Bishop apologized to the persons who made the allegations "for the emotional suffering... endured over these many years." He said "even the passage of time has not dimmed their memory of a difficult experience encountered at early stages in their lives."

Bishop DiMarzio's letter, which was read in Italian at the parish's Mass in Italian, asked the parishioners of St. Luke's to pray for the well-being of those who presented the allegations.

The bishop also asked for prayers for the former pastor, expressing the hope that celebrating the Eucharist privately "will sustain him in what is clearly a painful period in his life" and asking parishioners "to remember the good works" he performed in more than 50 years as a priest.

As the group that investigates allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, the Diocesan Review Board consists of eight members "of outstanding integrity and ?good judgment," the bishop said. They are experienced in social services, family life, medicine, the law and law enforcement.

The board was formed as directed by the "Essential Norms" that accompanied the U.S. Catholic bishops' 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." The members "are generous in their commitment to serving the Church," the bishop said.

Bishop DiMarzio also stated his gratitude to Amityville Dominican Sister Ellen Patricia Finn, the diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, and five members of the diocesan Healing Intervention Team, who were available after the seven weekend Masses to meet with parishioners who wished to comment on the information they had heard.

The letter also invited anyone who as a minor was the victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy of the diocese to make it known by calling the diocesan toll-free number, (888) 634-4499. The caller "will be treated courteously and with respect," the letter noted.


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