Fr. Lombardi on Teta Case

Vatican Radio
April 3, 2010

VATICAN CITY -- Vatican Press Office Director, Fr Federico Lombardi, has issued a statement regarding recent media reports on the case of Rev. Michael Teta of the Diocese of Tucson Arizona.

In the statement Fr Lombardi notes "some newspapers have recently reported on the "Teta case", of abuse by a priest of the Diocese of Tucson in the 1970's. Much of the reportage has been misleading".

He writes "The Diocese of Tucson contacted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the case, because it regarded the canonical crime of solicitation in the confessional. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took an active interest in the case throughout the 1990's, in order to guarantee that the Church trial underway in the Diocese of Tucson was properly completed. The trial was completed in 1997. The cleric in question was found guilty and laicized. The evidence clearly and certainly shows this. The Bishop of Tucson, Bishop Kicanas had already stated as much in response to local press inquiries. Published letters from the CDF confirm this".

Fr Lombardo goes on to note that Fr. Teta, however, presented an appeal. "His appeal reached the Congregation Tribunal during a period in which the revision of the canonical norms previously in force had already started. The appeals were therefore pending until the entry into force of new legislation in 2001, which resulted in all cases of "serious crimes" being placed under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a faster and more secure treatment".

The Vatican Press Office Director observes that "beginning in 2001, all pending appeals have been handled promptly, and the Teta appeal was one of the first to be handled. This took time, because there was a particularly large volume of documentation. In any case, the decision of the trial court was confirmed in toto, and Teta was defrocked in 2004".

Fr. Lombardi concludes: "It must not be forgotten that even when appeals are pending and the sentence is suspended, precautionary measures are imposed by the bishop on the accused. Indeed, Teta had been suspended from the exercise of priestly ministry in 1990".


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