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Susan Hess wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have been invited to attend a Mass which is being celebrated by a priest who has admitted to sexual abuse of a minor and has been given the sentence of a life of prayer and penance.

I don't think he's supposed to be holding Masses and, although the Mass will be in a home, I don't know if it's okay to attend. He's really old and the abuse was years ago.

  • Can you help me with this?

Thank you.


  { Should I attend a Mass celebrated by a priest who has admitted to sexual abuse? }

Mike replied:

Dear Susan,

I don't know the nuances of this situation, but in all cases where any Catholic priest has admitted to sexual abuse of a minor you should immediately contact the local diocese in your area to find out whether what this priest is doing is permissible by the local bishop.

If it is not, which is probable, you should:

  • not go, and
  • inform others that the local bishop has not approved of these actions.

This is not an issue to be taken lightly but should be addressed immediately.


Susan replied:

Hi Mike,

This priest has admitted to the abuse. His punishment was not to be laicized, but to do penance and prayer, so he's living by himself and we are very isolated in the Mohave desert. He's kind of a lonely, old man. He holds these Masses in his condo.

I just don't know if it's okay to attend or not. The bishop is miles away and I can't imagine he would be interested in hearing from me.

  • Do you think it's okay to attend these Masses?


Mike replied:

Hi Sue,

Because this is a situation where he has pleaded guilt to previous sexual abuse, I would not go, unless I get an OK from the bishop.

Don't worry about touching base with him; that's why he is there — for your spiritual needs.

In all likelihood, you will reach a secretary to the bishop, but he or she can find out from the bishop and get back to you.


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