Pope Removes Illinois Monsignor from Priesthood

Associated Press, carried in ABC 7
November 17, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Pope Benedict XVI has removed an Illinois monsignor from the priesthood following allegations of sexual misconduct, church officials said.

Monsignor Eugene Costa, 57, of Springfield, is the former pastor of St. John Vianney Church in Sherman and Holy Family Church in Athens, and has been on leave since January 2005.

Because the pope removed him, the action can't be appealed, said Kathie Sass, a spokeswoman the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said on Friday.

Costa, once chancellor of the Springfield diocese, is also no longer permitted to perform priestly ministries or call himself "father," she said.

"Catholics believe the holy order leaves a permanent mark on the soul," she told the (Springfield) State Journal-Register. "In one sense, he will always be a priest. But this has removed him from the clerical state permanently."

Costa's problems began when he was beaten by two men in a park on Dec. 21, 2004; it was later alleged he had solicited the two for sex. Subsequent investigations by the diocese and the U.S. Attorney's office revealed a pattern of sexual misconduct.

There was no answer Saturday at a telephone number for a Eugene Costa in Springfield.


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