Iowa Vicar General Exonerated

Catholic Culture
November 5, 2008

As a Diocese of Davenport review board found abuse allegations against retired Bishop Lawrence Soens and three other priests to be credible, it exonerated Msgr. Dale Shafer, who served as vicar general from 2000 to 2003. Following Msgr. Shafer's suspension in 2003, he 'exercised his right to an ecclesiastical trial and the Vatican instructed the Diocese to conduct an ecclesiastical trial,' according to a diocesan press release issued Monday. 'A three judge panel was constituted from canon lawyers from outside of the Diocese. If the judges had found him guilty, he would have been permanently dismissed from priestly ministry. The ecclesiastical court interviewed witnesses and reviewed numerous documents including civil court testimony and the email correspondence between Msgr. Shafer and his accuser. The ecclesiastical court found Msgr. Shafer not guilty of sexual abuse. The Vatican concurred with the finding of the ecclesiastical court. The decision of the Vatican is final and binding. No other reports of sexual abuse of minors by Msgr. Shafer have been made despite intensive media coverage of the accusation against Msgr. Shafer.'


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