Rome Rules on two Area Priests
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome has issued rulings on Archdiocese of Cincinnati priests accused of abuse, removing one from active ministry and restoring the other to active ministry.
The Archdiocese announced Friday that Msgr. Daniel Pater (referred to in the remainder of this story without his titles, which he retains but can no longer use) has been removed from ministry permanently, and Fr. David Reilly has been returned to ministry. Pater, 61, has been on administrative leave (removed from ministry temporarily) for the past nine years and Fr. Reilly for the past six.
Both the Archdiocese’s Decree on Child Protection and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)’s Charter and Norms for the Protection of Children and Young People require that a priest who is credibly accused of abusing a child at any time in his career be put on leave during the investigation and trial, says Archdiocese of Cincinnati spokesman Dan Andriacco.
Pater, associate pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Kettering from 1979 to 1982, served in the Vatican diplomatic corps until 1993, when he was accused of sexually abusing a teen girl over a period of years beginning in the 1980s and continuing until shortly before the victim came forward. He was then brought home to the United States for therapy, the case was settled in court, and he returned to Rome to work as a diplomat. At the time, returning a priest to ministry with restrictions (such as not being around children) was usual and was recommended by psychologists.
In 2003, under the new rules, Pater returned to the Archdiocese while his case was investigated and tried by a Church tribunal. As a Vatican diplomat he was judged by the CDF in Rome. Found guilty, he has been permanently removed from ministry and assigned to “a life of prayer and penance.”
He cannot present himself as a priest, celebrate Mass in public, administer the other sacraments, or wear clerical garb. As a priest he remains under the supervision of the Church and he is not released from his vow of celibacy, unlike men who are laicized, or “permanently removed from the clerical state.”
Fr. Reilly was put on administrative leave because of an accusation of inappropriate behavior with a minor in the 1970s. A church court “ruled that he was not proven guilty of the alleged offense” and its decision was ratified by the CDF. The tribunal judges were not priests of the Archdiocese, says Andriacco. Because Fr. Reilly, 71, is already retired, he will not be assigned to a parish or other work, although he can request an assignment.
Friday’s announcement was the third recent decision regarding a priest associated with the area. Last week Glenmary priest Fr. Robert Poandl, was sentenced to seven and a half years of prison after a rare federal court trial for the alleged abuse of a boy in 1991. Fr. Poandl, 73 and dying of cancer, says he is not guilty. The case against him was dismissed for lack of evidence in West Virginia, where the abuse is alleged to have occurred. Glenmary, based in Cincinnati, is an association of priests and lay people devoted to rural America. Its priests are not under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop.
Pater’s case was widely reported when it was filed twenty years ago and when he returned to Rome after the legal settlement.
“I hope that this decision will bring some measure of closure and healing to all those harmed by Daniel Pater’s actions,” says Archbishop Schnurr, who did not come to Cincinnati until 2008. “As Archbishop, I deeply regret that any representative of the local Church has ever harmed a child under our care. One of our most important priorities in the Archdiocese is to provide a safe environment for our children.”
According to the Archdiocese, three priests remain on administrative leave because of accusations. Of those found guilty, seven have been permanently removed from the clerical state and four (including Pater and a priest who since passed away) were permanently removed from ministry.
Archbishop Schnurr urges anyone who has been abused at any time by an agent of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer) to contact Sandy Keiser, LISW, the Coordinator of Ministry to Survivors of Abuse of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, at (513) 263-6623, and to call secular legal authorities. The Archdiocese, as it does with reports of child abuse, will alert the prosecuting attorney of the victim’s county.
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