Alaska priest stripped of duties for past abuse

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Anchorage priest who once abused a 15-year-old boy in Michigan has been stripped of his authority to be a minister.

Bishop Carl Mengeling of Lansing, Mich. announced Tuesday he was ''withdrawing the faculties,'' the official permission to exercise ministry, from Father Timothy Crowley.

Crowley is a priest of the Diocese of Lansing and has worked as an administrative assistant in the Anchorage curate's office for seven years. Crowley, who once served in Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish, has been allowed to say Mass at Our Lady of Guadelupe Parish.

According to church officials, withdrawal of faculties does not constitute laicization, sometimes called defrocking, which only the Vatican can grant. That process only can occur at the end of a lengthy process laid out under church law and it's not under consideration in Crowley's case.

But it means Crowley is no longer able to engage in priestly ministry in his archdiocese and that no other bishop may allow him to do so.

Crowley's status has been in question since June, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The guidelines require that past abusers, while allowed to remain in the priesthood, be stripped of all church duties.

Retired Archbishop Francis T. Hurley, who approved Crowley's transfer to Anchorage in 1995, said last month that Anchorage officials wanted to keep Crowley in his current position.

The Michigan priest first came to Hurley's attention when he received a letter from Crowley expressing his wish to come to Alaska. He asked that Hurley call his bishop.

Then-Bishop Kenneth Povish told Hurley that Crowley was guilty of grievous sexual misconduct, had been removed from his Ann Arbor parish in 1993 and received treatment in a two-year rehabilitation program.

Before accepting Crowley, Hurley required that Crowley get a psychiatric evaluation. Hurley also consulted with the archdiocese's Sexual Abuse Oversight Committee and outside experts.

Crowley was allowed to live in a parish. A church mentor was assigned to him and a lay person checked on him periodically.

Crowley's record has been clean since arriving in Anchorage, Hurley said.



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