Vatican Ousts 4 from Clerical State

By John M. Guilfoil
Boston Globe
June 14, 2011

The Vatican removed from the clerical state yesterday four priests who were accused of sexually molesting children during the 1970s and '80s.

Robert F. Daly, John Keane, Robert Knapp, and Benjamin McMahon were declared "no longer in the clerical state" by the Holy See. They have not been in active ministry since the 1980s.

Daly, McMahon, and Knapp voluntarily left the ministry, while Keane was dismissed, the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement yesterday.

As a result of the actions, the men may no longer serve in any function as priests, but they are still allowed to offer the Last Rites to the dying.

Daly took a leave of absence from the church in 1984 and was later accused of sexually abusing minors over a nearly 15-year period.

Keane pleaded guilty in 2008 to indecent assault and battery of a girl under the age of 14 between 1981 and 1983. He is currently a registered sex offender in Florida.

Knapp has been accused of hundreds of incidents of sexual assault from 1979 to 1984, according to the website

McMahon was accused in 1991 of sexually assaulting three brothers in the late 1970s and early '80s. He had been suspended since the accusations.

The moves did not impress church watchdogs.

"These are such old cases," said Terry McKiernan, codirector of "The archdiocese has known about them for so long you just have to shake your head at the amount of time it has taken for disciplinary action."

On the three priests who are not registered sex offenders, McKiernan said: "It's not necessarily a positive thing that the church is washing its hands of these people. .

"There still has to be a concern about their whereabouts and access to children," he said.

David Clohessy, director the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also faulted the decision.

"We're disappointed, but not surprised, that [Cardinal Sean] O'Malley failed to urge those who saw, suspected, or suffered child sex crimes by these clerics to call police," he said. "That should be O'Malley's top priority, keeping predators away from kids.

"It's irresponsible for Catholic officials to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, and protect child-molesting clerics, then cut them loose when public pressure becomes too great," Clohessy said.

"We believe the church hierarchy should insist that predator priests live in remote, secure, independently run treatment centers, so that they can get therapy and kids can be safer.

"We also believe that O'Malley should spend less effort defrocking predators and more effort warning parents about them."

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