Fall River Diocese suspends 2 retired priests over sex abuse allegations

By Jacqui Gomersall And Brittany Schaefer
January 19, 2020

[with video]

Two retired Catholic priests in Southeastern Massachusetts have been suspended from ministry due to separate allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, according to the Diocese of Fall River.

The diocese identified the priests as Father James F. Buckley and Father Edward J. Byington.

The allegations date back decades and both priests have denied them.

The unrelated allegations have been referred to law enforcement and remain under investigation by the diocese.

“The Diocese of Fall River remains committed to resolving these matters in as fair and as transparent a process as possible and to ensuring the safety of all youth and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha said in a statement.

Both priests retired in the early 2000’s and were not assigned to a parish, but both had assisted in masses in various parishes since their retirement.

Father Byington also taught German classes at St. Joseph’s School in West Warwick. The Diocese of Providence said it was notified of his suspension and immediately removed him from any further duties.

The Diocese of Fall River did not go into further detail about the allegations, which come nearly a year after another priest in the diocese was placed on leave for alleged “inappropriate communications.”

The Diocese has not yet released its list of credibly accused priests.

Father Buckley was ordained in 1959 and retired in 2001. His assignments included the following: St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River; Sacred Heart Parish, Fall River; Immaculate Conception Parish, North Easton; St. Joan of Arc Parish, Orleans; St. Augustine Parish, Vineyard Haven; St. Margaret Parish, Buzzards Bay; Holy Redeemer Parish, Chatham.

Father Byington was ordained in 1970 and retired in 2006. He was assigned to the following parishes: St. John the Evangelist Parish, Attleboro; Sacred Heart Parish, Fall River; Sacred Heart Parish, Taunton; St. Patrick Parish, Fall River; St. Paul Parish, Taunton; St. George Parish, Westport; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Seekonk; Sacred Heart Parish, Fall River; St. Francis of Xavier Parish, Hyannis; St. Thomas More Parish, Somerset.

Anyone who has information regarding misconduct or abuse involving any past or present member of the Fall River Diocese can report it by calling 508-985-6508.


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