MA diocese still supports priests on leave
By Kathleen A. Shaw - TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
Monday, November 22, 2004
The Diocese of Worcester continues to support a number of
priests placed on leave because of sexual misconduct allegations,
including the Rev. Thomas A. Kane, director of the former
House of Affirmation, who was fired amid fiscal irregularities
at the Whitinsville facility.
Bishop Robert J. McManus said in a statement Friday that
the diocese is reviewing its policies on support for priests
on leave because of sexual abuse allegations, but said canon
law requires the diocese to continue support to priests who
Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, former head of the Worcester Diocese,
said in a deposition and under questioning from lawyer Tahira
Khan Merritt of Dallas that the money comes from the priest
assistance fund. The priests are entitled by canon law to
money to meet their needs, including medical insurance, he
said. He did not say exactly how many priests are receiving
money; Bishop Reilly reported in February that 45 priests
have been accused of misconduct since 1950, although some
have since died.
The diocesan records for fiscal 2003 show more than $270,000
in the priest assistance fund. Bishop Reilly said this money
does not go to retired priests, who are in a separate fund.
Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the diocese, said the money
in the priest assistance fund is also used for other things
besides accused priests.
He said priests in good standing with the church can be helped
through that fund, when they are on leave because of health
or other personal circumstances unrelated to allegations of
misconduct. The financial help each priest gets is decided
on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Bishop Reilly testified at a deposition that started in April
and concluded in September involving a lawsuit filed in Texas
by two men who alleged they were sexually abused by the Rev.
Thomas H. Teczar in that state when they were teenagers.
Rev. Teczar was removed from priestly service in Worcester
after allegations arose here, but found a new placement in
1988 in the Fort Worth (Texas) Diocese. He returned to Massachusetts
in 1993 after the allegations of sexual misconduct arose there.
Ms. Merritt asked the bishop where Rev. Kane is now. I
am not quite sure where he is. I would have to check the file.
He has been in different places, but I am not sure where he
is now. The depositions indicated that Rev. Teczar had
been sent to the House of Affirmation for treatment after
allegations arose in the Worcester Diocese.
Is he still being financially supported by the Worcester
diocese? she asked. Yes, the bishop replied.
Rev. Kane was last known to be living in Mexico, where he
was running a teacher training institute and publicized the
venture with a Web site.
Rev. Kane was ousted from his position as director of the
House of Affirmation in 1987 after 11 executives complained
that he siphoned off money from the agency to support and
increase his own extensive real estate holdings. The case
was closed when he was removed, and he paid back an amount
of money to the house. The amount was never disclosed.
Bishop Reilly told Ms. Merritt, who represents one alleged
victim, that Rev. Teczar, although he cannot function as a
priest, receives $554 a month plus medical insurance. Bishop
Reilly said he sees no reason to defrock Rev. Teczar. I
dont see the big difference that that makes, he
He is free, he is not in prison? Ms. Merritt
asked, to which the bishop replied Yes.
So he could still be molesting children today, couldnt
he? she said.
Yes, the bishop replied. He added that Rev. Teczar
could be molesting minors whether or not he was defrocked.
Well, but you wouldnt have any more responsibility
for him, would you, economically and ecclesiastically?
Right, the bishop answered.
Bishop Reilly said the diocese has only attempted to defrock
one priest, Monsignor Leo J. Battista. Monsignor Battista,
a former director of Catholic Charities, was removed from
ministry and is now retired after an allegation surfaced against
him in a civil suit in the early 1990s.
The bishop said he sent that case to Rome for action. Asked
why he chose Monsignor Battista and none of the others, he
replied, Because the case was so strong and it was really
something that this woman felt was necessary for her to achieve
her fullness as a person again.
The diocese produced computer records showing that it paid
Rev. Teczar a total of $27,101 from January 2000 to April.
The money was something to help him live his daily life,
and that is something we have to do according to canon law,
the bishop said. Ms. Merritt asked how much he had paid to
the two alleged victims, John Doe I and John Doe II, in the
Texas lawsuit and he said he couldnt answer. Ms. Merritt
represents the man identified as John Doe II while Daniel
J. Shea of Houston represents John Doe I.
Bishop McManus, who succeeded Bishop Reilly as Worcester
bishop in May, said the diocese in conjunction with the Diocesan
Review Board is conducting a final review of a new policy
for liaison to those on leave because of allegations of sexual
misconduct and other issues related to their leave.
Bishop McManus said as long as priests continue to have canonical
rights as priests and while they are awaiting a church resolution
to their situation, the diocese is obliged by Canon 281 of
the churchs canon law to provide financial help. Canon
law states this remuneration should enable them to provide
for the needs of their own life and for the equitable payment
of those whose services they need, the bishop said.
He added, the provision is likewise to be made so that
they possess that social assistance by which their needs are
suitably provided for if they suffer from illness, incapacity
or old age.
As part of this policy review, procedures are being
discussed which will respect the rights of those in need while
assuring the dioceses continued ability to direct donations
to their intended use, namely, support the mission of the
church, Bishop McManus said.
The status of individual cases of support, including
that of Father Kane, changes from time to time due to changes
in their individual circumstances, and will be reviewed to
assure that a demonstrated need justified continuing financial
support, Bishop McManus said.
Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger, who told lawyers in his
April deposition that he expects to retire soon, said that
Bishop Reilly about six months earlier appointed four priests
to act as monitors of the priests who were removed
for sexual misconduct allegations. He named Monsignor Thomas
J. Sullivan, the chancellor and liaison to District Attorney
John J. Conte; Monsignor F. Stephen Pedone, the judical vicar;
and the Rev. Rocco Piccolomini, vicar for priests, but could
not recall the name of the fourth monitor.
Bishop Reilly said the diocese is not monitoring Rev. Teczar,
who lives in Dudley, and said he is pretty much on his
own. He added this is pretty much a concern. It
would be the same thing if he was laicized.
Bishop Reilly revealed that the Rev. Peter J. Inzerillo,
who was placed into St. Leos Parish, Leominster, after
a suit had been settled naming him and the Rev. Brendan ODonoghue
as perpetrators of sexual misconduct, was not removed from
the parish in 2002 because of any pressure from the parish.
He said he was removed because another separate allegation
not connected with the settled lawsuit came to his attention.
Bishop Reilly said the issue of Rev. Inzerillo being named
in that lawsuit was complicated because no proof was presented
to show that Rev. Inzerillo had done anything wrong. He said
the priest was named in the settlement because the opposite
side wanted his name included in the settlement.
So it was one of those things where it is not very
clear that you are putting somebody who is guilty of a crime
back into the parish, he said.
He was removed from the parish because an allegation
came in that I thought had credence, he said.