Friday, February 22, 2008

Former Jesuit Under Investigation In Maine And Massachusetts

Rev. Maurice Lebel, who has been in Maine for the past 22 years and is now retired, was previously a Jesuit priest serving in the Fall River Diocese. From 1973 to 1976, he was rector of the Jesuit community at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River, and from 1976 to 1986, he was a counselor for the diocese's Catholic Social Services, first at its Fall River headquarters, and then at its Attleboro office.

The allegation was first reported to church officials in Boston in March 2007 by a Massachusetts resident who claims to have been abused in the early 1980s at the ages of 15 to 17.

Investigations were launched by the Portland diocese, where Lebel was assigned at the time, and by law enforcement in Massachusetts, where Lebel had lived and worked during the time the alleged abuse took place. Based on preliminary evidence, Lebel was later restricted from ministry. According to the Portland diocese, civil authorities had completed enough of their investigation to allow the public release of information in December, and the Fall River Diocese was then notified. No information has been released on the exact dates or locations of the alleged abuse, other than it occurred in the early 1980s in Massachusetts.

After serving in the Fall River Diocese until 1986, Lebel was transferred to Maine by his religious order, the Society of Jesus. In 1991, he left his religious order and became a diocesan priest in Portland,

then served at various parishes until he was temporarily removed from ministry last year because of the allegation.

Link to the full story (here)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vatican defrocks convicted priest Donald McGuire

By Karoun Demirjian
Tribune reporter,1,7323975.story
February 23, 2008

A Jesuit priest convicted of molesting students at a Chicago-area Catholic school in the 1960s was officially defrocked Friday.

Donald J. McGuire has been permanently removed from all clerical functions, said a statement from Rev. Edward Schmidt, the head of the Chicago order of the Society of Jesus to which McGuire belonged.

"We are outraged and saddened that any abuse ever took place," Schmidt said. "[McGuire] has terribly abused the trust [the victims], and we, put in him. And the church, by the action taken today, has demonstrated that same belief."

McGuire, a popular priest whose accolades included being a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, was convicted in 2006 of molesting two students from Loyola Academy in Wilmette in the 1960s. He also has been accused of molesting others on various occasions from the 1960s through 2002. Though they welcomed news of McGuire's removal from the priesthood, attorneys and advocates for the victims said it was more symbolic than substantive.

"In the scheme of things, it's little consolation to those kids and families whose lives and souls have been ruined and betrayed by the leadership as well as McGuire," said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who has represented five of the priest's accusers. "It's a beginning, but it's just so little, so late."

Defrocking has been advocated by bishops in recent years as a means of punishing clergy found to have abused children, but it's not a simple procedure. Priests who do not voluntarily leave the cloth -- as McGuire did not -- must be forced out by official order from the Vatican.

McGuire, 77, lives in Oak Lawn and travels frequently to Cleveland for medical treatment. A lawyer for McGuire said he was saddened by the news of his dismissal.