Priest with Cape Ties Faces Abuse Allegation
By Sean Teehan
Cape Cod Times
May 25, 2012
The Archdiocese of Boston put a senior priest who sometimes worked in a Falmouth Catholic Church on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual abuse of a child.
The allegation against the Rev. Joseph F. Byrne stems from alleged conduct in the early 1970s a statement from the Archdiocese said. Officials at the Archdiocese were recently notified of the complaint and immediately alerted law enforcement, the statement said.
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Byrne will remain on administrative leave with no public ministry pending the outcome of a preliminary investigation of the allegation, the statement said.
“We remain committed to doing everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of children and young people in our parishes and institutions,” said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in a statement. “I know the faithful and the clergy of the Archdiocese join me in this pledge of prayerful support.”
His placement on administrative leave represents the Archdiocese’s commitment to the welfare of all parties, not a determination of Byrne’s guilt or innocence, the Archdiocese statement said.
Byrne, who was in priests’ equivalent to retirement, began occasionally filling in for other priests at St. Patrick’s Church in Falmouth about five years ago, said the Rev. John A. Perry, the church’s pastor.
“He would be a weekend assistant” saying mass, Perry said. “He had no parish responsibility.”
Perry said that Byrne had no access to children when he performed mass at St. Patrick’s some weekends.
Byrne previously came under fire in 2005, when he was sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $100,000 from a Catholic church in Waltham, according to an indictment in Middlesex Superior Court.