Two Priests Lose Their Clergy Status
Men Served Parishes in Cuyahoga County before Abuse Allegations

Beacon Journal
December 1, 2007

The Vatican has stripped two former priests in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland of their clergy status.

Brendan J. McNulty and Gary D. Berthiaume, who both served parishes in Cuyahoga County, had requested "to be removed from the clerical state," according to information released Friday by the local diocese.

The Holy See granted the requests of both men, who had been removed from active ministry amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors.

The diocese said that the two men are "no longer incardinated in the Diocese of Cleveland." The canonical term "incardinated" can be likened to the secular term defrocked, a diocesan spokeswoman said.

McNulty, who was ordained in 1974 in the Cleveland Diocese, was removed from his post at SS. Philip and James parish in Cleveland and placed on leave in November 2003. His suspension came after a diocesan review board determined that an allegation of sexual abuse against him was credible enough to warrant a full investigation. The allegation dated back to the mid-1970s.

Berthiaume, who was ordained in 1968 in the Archdiocese of Detroit, was assigned to the Cleveland Diocese from 1978 to 1980. He later was assigned to the diocese in Joliet, Ill., living at a retreat house in Warrenville, Ill., in 1988. He was removed from active ministry in 2002 while a chaplain in a suburban Chicago hospital. He had been convicted of a charge related to contact with a minor in the 1970s in Michigan.

The Vatican's decision means that Berthiaume and McNulty can no longer function as priests anywhere, with the exception of offering absolution to the dying in extreme cases when no priest is available, according to a diocesan spokeswoman.


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