Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vatican removes priest

The Republican
Church: Vatican removes priest
Thursday, May 07, 2009
WESTFIELD - A former Roman Catholic priest who lives in Westfield and is accused of sexual abuse in Vermont, Indiana and eastern Massachusetts has been officially removed from the priesthood by the Vatican, according to church officials.
Edward O. Paquette, 81, who served in the dioceses of Burlington, Vt., Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., and Fall River, has been removed from the clerical state, according to Mark E. Dupont, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
Dupont said the diocese was making the decision known because Paquette lives in Westfield.
The action means that Paquette can never serve as a priest again, according to Dupont, who said the priest was never assigned to the Springfield diocese and has not served as a priest for several decades.
"This means there is no chance he can serve as a priest again, in any manner; there's no chance, no chance of appeal," Dupont said.
Paquette first served as a Catholic priest in the 1950s and 1960s in the Diocese of Fall River, where complaints alleging sexual abuse against him were filed with the diocese in the 1990s.
In December 2008, a former altar boy was awarded $3.6 million because the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vt., failed to protect the altar boy from an abusive priest identified as Paquette in the 1970s.
The lawsuit, filed by a 43-year-old Maryland man, did not name Paquette as a defendant. Earlier last year, a separate jury awarded a different plaintiff $8.7 million for abuse allegedly inflicted by Paquette.


Robert M. Kelly said...

In the story, Springfield Diocese spokesman Mark Dupont says Paquette never served as a priest in this area.

Mr. Dupont is mistaken.

In the early 60's, the Rev. Timothy F. O'Connor of Westfield, who was an adviser to Paquette after his dismissal from Fall River, consulted Bishop Weldon, and Paquette was assigned to Masses at a "sisters institution" in the Springfield Diocese, according to a 1963 letter. The letter was filed in court in connection with two Vermont suits, both of which were settled in 2008. The letter states that O'Connor recommended that Paquette be incardinated, or permanently assigned a job.

I would recommend that Catholics become fully informed about the links between the former Fr. Paquette and the Diocese of Springfield.

One excellent article is called "Past Still Haunts Accused Priest" and was written by Bill Zajac for the Springfield Republican issue of Feb. 27, 2005. Another good account is "Sins of Omission" by Kevin O'Connor, and appeared in the May 18, 2008 issue of the Times Argue (Montpelier).

Thank God for journalists.

Furthermore, we now know, thanks to letters released in the Burlington Diocese, that Paquette was reprimanded in 1999 by the bishop from Indiana, and in 2005 by the bishop in Springfield for wearing his Roman collar in public and for saying Mass in Palmer, Mass., though forbidden to do so.

My questions: why was the public not told that Paquette was parading around passing himself off as a priest in good standing? why was there no supervision of Paquette all those years that he escaped prosecution? why no treatment program? and why does the Springfield Diocese refuse to publish a list of credibly accused priests on their web site?

Robert M. Kelly said...

to correct my earlier post, the 1999 warning was from the Springfield bishop, and the 2005 warning was from the Indiana bishop.