Vatican defrocks three Archdiocese of Cincinnati priests

Archdiocese defrocks three priests

(FOX19) - The Vatican permanently removed three priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Tuesday due to allegations of improper behavior involving minors.

Three priests--Thomas Kuhn, Thomas Feldhaus, and Ronald Cooper--have been permanently removed from both the rights and the obligations of the priesthood after a canonical process.  The decisions were made by a panel of three judges in another diocese and affirmed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) at the Vatican.The canonical process is described on the Archdiocese's website.

"I hope that this resolution will bring some measure of closure and healing to anyone harmed by these priests," said the Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, in a news release. "With this decision, all of the cases presented to the CDF have been dealt with and we have no more priests of the Archdiocese on administrative leave."

But one victim says the news doesn't bring closure.

"The Vatican's actions on this day are far too little, and far too late," said Daniel Frondorf, a man who leads the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Cincinnati.

Frondorf was sexually abused by a priest when he was a senior in high school. It wasn't one of the three defrocked by the Vatican but that doesn't matter to him.

"The scandal might be over from Archbishop Schnurr's point of view, but if you were abused by a priest, or you're the mother or the father or the sibling of somebody that was, it'll never go away," Frondorf said.

The sting of scandals like this resonated with more than just victims.

"Priests have had to live with the consequences of the scandal, of the actions of other people. I think that's also demoralizing," said Father Benedict O'Cinnsealaigh, rector and president of the Athenaeum of Ohio and Mount St. Mary's Seminary.

O'Cinnsealaigh says his seminary has seen rising numbers of those enrolling for years now. So much so, they're nearly full and are expanding, perhaps with men who see the scandal and want to be a part of the solution.

"Most priests are good men trying to do a good job, and then they hear these stories and it scandalizes them, as well as scandalizing the Catholic population," O'Cinnsealaigh said.

As part of the process, he says psychological evaluations play a large role in determining who will, and who won't make a good priest.

"Priests don't want children to be in the line of fire of people who will abuse them or people who will take advantage of them, and not only children, but anybody. Priests want priests to be men of excellence," O'Cinnsealaigh told FOX19 NOW.

According to a release, Kuhn was put on administrative in 2002 after law enforcement officers seized the office computers at St. Henry Parish in Dayton, where he was pastor. In 2004, he was convicted of 11 misdemeanor charges of public indecency and providing alcohol to minors. He violated terms of his probation on those charges and served 30 days in jail.

Feldhaus was put on administrative leave in 2003 after an allegation that he inappropriately touched a minor on two occasions around 1979.

Cooper was put on administrative leave in 2004 as a result of an allegation that he inappropriately touched a minor in the 1983-1984 time period. He acknowledged the contact with the minor but said his actions were without sexual intent.

A priest on administrative leave may not celebrate the sacraments, engage in priestly ministry or present himself as a priest in any way, the archdiocese said.

"As Archbishop, I deeply regret that any representative of the local Church has ever harmed a child under our care. We remain committed to enforcing our policies to provide a safe environment for children under our care, and to ministering to survivors of abuse," said Schnurr.

Schnurr urges anyone who has ever been abused by an agent of the Archdiocese in Cincinnati, whether that be anyone from employees to volunteers, to contact the Ministry to Survivors of Abuse of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at 513-263-6623.

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