Vatican Removes 2 from Priesthood over Sex Abuse Allegations

Associated Press, carried in News Journal
December 1, 2007

CLEVELAND — The Vatican removed from the priesthood two men who faced credible complaints of sexual abuse of children, the Cleveland Catholic Diocese said Friday.

Gary Berthiaume, who was suspended from active ministry in 2002, and J. Brendan McNulty, who was suspended in 2003, had asked to be removed from the clerical state, the diocese said.

Berthiaume transferred to Cleveland after serving six months in a Michigan jail on a sex abuse charge in the 1970s, diocese spokesman Bob Polomsky said. More allegations surfaced when he worked in Cleveland.

McNulty was suspended while serving as pastor of Saints Philip and James Church in Cleveland. The allegations involved sexual abuse of boys from a large churchgoing family in the 1970s.

"We are deeply sorry of the pain suffered by survivors of abuse due to action of some members of the clergy, as nothing is more important than protecting children," the diocese said in announcing the Vatican move.

No phone listing could be found for Berthiaume or McNulty and they could not be reached for comment. Polomsky said he didn't have contact information on Berthiaume, who no longer lives in Ohio, or McNulty, who still lives in the Cleveland area.

Twenty-one priests in the diocese have been placed on administrative leave over abuse allegations since April 2002, Polomsky said.

Berthiaume and McNulty are the only two who have been defrocked. Two have died, nine are still waiting for the Vatican to resolve their cases, two have yet to appear before a review board and others have received various penalties, including being banned from priestly ministry or presenting themselves publicly as a priest, Polomsky said.

The diocese has about 780,000 Catholics in eight northeast Ohio counties. It has 411 diocesan priests, including 85 who are retired and 35 assigned elsewhere, including missionary and military chaplain work.


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