Archdiocese Issues Statement on Laicized Priest

St. Louis Review
October 27, 2011

A woman filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Louis Oct. 24 claiming to have been abused by Joseph Ross, a laicized priest of the archdiocese.

According to a statement from the archdiocese, the plaintiff in the civil case is the same person who brought criminal charges against Ross for abuse reportedly occurring in 1998-2000 when Ross was the pastor at St. Cronan Parish in south St. Louis. These charges were subsequently dropped by the circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis in August 2010.

The archdiocese will review the lawsuit when it is received and investigate the complaint, the statement noted.

Ross resigned his pastorship in 2002 due to substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors that occurred in the 1980s. Then-Archbishop Justin Rigali initiated the laicization proceedings at the request of Ross after removing him from ministry.

Laicization, which is granted by the pope, means that a priest has been definitively returned to the status of a layman, is dispensed from all the obligations that he assumed by sacred orders and that a diocese no longer has responsibility for his support.

Ross had pleaded guilty in 1988 to an earlier misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse in the second degree. The court imposed probation at that time, requiring him to continue in therapy. An archdiocesesan spokesman said in 2002 that Ross' reassignments in the past would not have occurred under newer clinical standards and archdiocesan policies.


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