Detroit Archbishop Wants Priest Laicized after Child Porn Charges

By Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press
January 22, 2014

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said Wednesday that he will ask the Vatican to laicize the Rev. Timothy Murray, a Catholic priest suspended from working as a priest because of long-ago child sexual abuse. Murray is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday on child pornography charges.

“I can tell you that I have already determined that I am going to ask that he be dismissed from the clerical state,” said Vigneron, who leads the six-county Detroit archdiocese.

In laicization, the Catholic Church cuts all ties with an individual, who is returned to layperson status.

Murray pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of child pornography in July, after a 2012 investigation found large volumes of pornographic movies and images stored on his Novi home computers. Federal prosecutors asked that U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts sentence him to 22 years; Murray’s defense lawyer proposes five.

Murray, 63, has not been allowed to work, dress or identify himself as a Catholic priest since archdiocese officials learned in 2004 that he had been accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy while he was a parish priest in the mid-1980s. Murray admitted to the long-ago abuse, according to court documents, but was not criminally prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.

The archdiocese, then under the leadership of now-retired Cardinal Adam Maida, did not pursue having Murray laicized.

Murray was allowed to live on his own but was required to regularly check in with an Archdiocesan monitor about his activities, especially those that could put him in contact with youngsters. But Murray did not disclose to the archdiocese that about 2008, he joined Hope Lutheran Church in Farmington Hills, where he codirected Christmas plays and occasionally served as a “worship leader,” according to court documents.

The archdiocese learned of Murray’s involvement at Hope Lutheran when told about the court documents by the Free Press.

“I am very angry that he did not abide by the prohibitions placed upon him,” Vigneron said Wednesday in a phone interview.

Vigneron also said he’d re-evaluate the archdiocese’s process for monitoring another 10 archdiocesan priests who are prevented from working or dressing as priests because of past child sex abuse.


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