Retired Priest Restricted

Sun Journal
December 9, 2007

The Rev. Maurice T. Lebel served in Norway, Auburn

PORTLAND - A Catholic priest who formerly served in Auburn and Norway has been temporarily removed from ministry, pending an investigation of alleged sexual abuse of a minor in Massachusetts, the Catholic diocese announced Saturday.

Before his removal, The Rev. Maurice T. Lebel, 74, was retired but serving in southern Maine, regularly ministering at St. Mary's in Wells and All Saints in Ogunquit, the diocese said Saturday in a prepared statement.

In March of this year, the Archdiocese of Boston received a complaint against Lebel from an individual from Massachusetts who claimed to have been assaulted and sexually abused between the ages of 15 and 17 in the 1980s. At that time, Lebel was a priest of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit ministry.

After reviewing preliminary evidence, Bishop Richard Malone restricted Lebel from all ministry until the diocesan investigation is completed. That won't happen until a Massachusetts civil investigation of Lebel is complete. Then, the Portland diocese will resume its investigation to determine whether the restriction will be permanent, the diocese said.

A Brunswick native, Lebel taught at Chevrus High School in 1964, and was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1967. He served at high schools and churches in Massachusetts and Maine. From 1995 to 2000, he was at Sacred Heart in Auburn, and from 2000-2003 at St. Catherine of Siena in Norway.

Bishop Malone is encouraging anyone who may have information on the case, or any case of sexual abuse of a minor by a church representative, to contact Deacon John Brennan at 207-321-7836, and/or the local police.

In separate matter, the dioceses said Saturday if another priest, who had also served locally, were alive, he'd be restricted from ministering.

Father John J. Curran, who died in 1976 at age 76, has been accused of sexual abuse by a minor. In March, the complainant reported that Curran abused a minor 45 years ago in 1962.

It isn't the first complaint against Curran. Another was lodged against him in 1995, but could not be corroborated at the time, the diocese said. Curran served in Hebron, Portland, Sanford, South Berwick, at St. Augustine's Church in Augusta and St. Mary's in Lewiston. Curran died four years after he retired in 1972.

The bishop is encouraging anyone with information on the Curran case to contact the Office of Professional Responsibility (321-7836) and/or local police.


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