Church officials will begin administrative action soon that could result in the removal of five priests accused of sexual misconduct in the Cincinnati archdiocese, the archbishop said.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk said Wednesday that the new sexual abuse policy approved last week by the Vatican requires Roman Catholic bishops to begin administrative proceedings against accused priests.
The archdiocese must send a report about each priest to the Vatican, which will either recommend the priest’s removal or order an ecclesiastical trial to decide his fate if the priest denies the allegations.
Five priests who remain employed by the 19-county Cincinnati archdiocese despite past allegations of sexual misconduct would be the first in the archdiocese affected by the new policy.
The archbishop has said the priests have been allowed to remain with the church because they are not in contact with children and pose no threat to the public. The new abuse policy requires church officials to remove them from ministry if the allegations are proven.
“If (a priest) admits everything, the Holy See will probably say, ‘Fine, he’s out,'” Pilarczyk said. “If there is some contention, the Holy See will say we have to have an ecclesiastical trial.”
Church officials have said the allegations against the five priests have been “substantiated,” but they have not said whether the priests have admitted misconduct.
Church officials will spend the next few months preparing reports about the priests for the Vatican. Some of the allegations date back more than 20 years ago.
Three additional priests have been suspended or have voluntarily taken leave this year because of misconduct allegations.
The archbishop has refused to identify the priests since he first spoke publicly about them in March, but church spokesman Dan Andriacco said their names will be made public if they are removed from ministry.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen has criticized church officials for not notifying authorities about the old abuse allegations and is investigating the conduct of the priests and the archdiocese.
Church officials say they now notify authorities of all abuse allegations involving children.