Diocese of Venice in Florida
November 10, 2005

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As you undoubtedly have heard, a civil suit was filed last Tuesday in Sarasota County against me and Father George Brennan. The suit alleges that in 1984 as a seminarian at Incarnation Parish, Sarasota, Father Brennan sexually abused a minor.

This allegation is being disputed in that Father Brennan was never at Incarnation Parish until following his ordination in 1987. As a seminarian he spent his summer assignments at St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton. Furthermore, Father Brennan denies the incidents ever occurred.

Following the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and our own diocesan policy, we have endeavored in good faith to work with the alleged victim, particularly in trying to identify his alleged abuser.

This case will be settled in a court of law, as it should be. I hope you will choose to refrain from judgment until all the facts are made known. Certainly our prayers are with the alleged victim as it is a terrible tragedy when someone is sexually abused. Nevertheless, it is equally tragic when someone is falsely identified and accused of an unspeakable act. As a Catholic community we are called to compassion for all involved.

As we approach our national holiday of Thanksgiving, I want to express my profound gratitude to all of you. I thank you for your prayers. I thank you for your commitment and dedication to the church, even when times are difficult. We all need to thank God for how richly we have been blessed as a Church, a nation, as residents here in southwest Florida.

May God bless you and your families.

Sincerely in Our Lord,

John J. Nevins, D.D.
Bishop of Venice in Florida


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