Three Worcester Diocese Priests Defrocked Over Abuse Allegations
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
David Blizard, Thomas Kane and Robert Shauris have been laicized and are no longer in the clerical state, and as a result, the three no longer function in any capacity as priests of the Roman Catholic Church. Shauris and Kane both underwent voluntary laicizations, which were accepted by Pope Benedict XVI prior to his resignation. Blizard's case was decided by the he Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
All three priests have been removed from ministry for nearly two decades, and the Diocese said that the decision to defrock them was made late last year, while the formal announcement of their laicization came now that the period of individual appeals had ended.
"I ask the Catholic community to join with me in prayer for healing for anyone who has been abused by these men or anyone in the Catholic Church,” said Bishop McManus in a statement.
“Allow me to echo the poignant words of Cardinal Francis George at the meeting of Cardinals in Rome on Monday, that ‘The wound is still deep in their hearts, and as long as it’s with them it will be with us.’ May we never lose sight of this.”
The priests and the allegations
Blizard was ordained in 1974 and served in the Central Mass parishes of St. Roch in Oxford, Our Lady Immaculate in Athol, Christ the King in Worcester and Holy Angels in Upton. He also was in residence at various parishes during an assignment to the Catholic School Department from 1983 to 1988.
Blizard was removed from ministry in 1988 by Bishop Timothy Harrington when allegations of abuse occurring during the 1970s and 1980s against him were determined to be credible.
Kane was ordained in 1969 and was in residence at St. Mary's of Uxbridge and St. Joan of Arc of Worcester, as well as the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville.
He was placed on leave in 1992 while serving as associate pastor of Sacred Heart in Gardner, and was subsequently removed from ministry in 1993 by Bishop Harrington for credible allegations of of abuse during the 1970s.
Shauris was ordained in 1974 and served as an associate pastor at St. Mary's of Uxbridge and was in residence at Immaculate Conception of Fitchburg, St. Anthony of Padua in Fitchburg, and Our Lady of Fatima in Worcester while on teaching assignments at St. Bernard Central Catholic High School (CCHS), St. Peter-Marian CCHS and Anna Maria College.
Bishop Daniel Reilly removed Shauris from ministry in 1995 upon learning of credible allegations of inappropriate behavior during the 1990s. The Diocese subsequently learned of credible allegations of abuse against Shauris from the prior two decades.
Shauris involved at other church
While Shauris has been out of ministry since 1995 due to the allegations of abuse and inappropriate behavior against him, he served as Church Organist for the Leicester First Congregational Church where he delivered a sermon as recently as February of 2012.
A call to Leicester First Congregational regarding Shauris' involvement with the congregation and whether they were aware of the allegations against him was not immediately returned. The Church's website still listed Shauris as the Church Organist as of Tuesday.
Ray Delisle, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Worcester, said the Diocese does not necessarily know where priests who are removed from ministry or laicized will end up.
"We make everything public and post things publicly," he said, noting that a number of stories have appeared in the media about the Diocese's actions in regard to priests who have been removed from ministry due to allegations of abuse or misconduct.
And while the Diocese makes an effort to keep tabs on their doings once they leave the ministry, Delisle said there are limits.
"We try to be able to stay in touch with them at least on a periodic basis. Sometimes people stay in touch, sometimes they don't," he said. "We aren't a police force so we don't have a way to go beyond that."
Worcester Diocese compliant for 10th straight year
Auditors also interviewed both internal and external people involved in the issue, including local law enforcement, review board members, and social workers.
“I am grateful to the pastors, the parish safe environment coordinators and the thousands of staff and volunteers around our diocese who have been willing to assist in making our schools and parishes safe for children,” Bishop McManus said.
“Our audits are helpful in seeing what works and give us an opportunity to learn what is happening nation-wide so that we can continue to improve our efforts to safeguard children. It is my fervent prayer that this annual audit process is underscoring our commitment to the safety of children and young people under our pastoral care and may serve as a model for other organizations in our society.”
Bishop McManus encouraged anyone in need of pastoral assistance as a result of clerical abuse to contact the diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator in the Office of Healing and Prevention at 508-929-4363.
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