Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Priests Say Bishop Issues Gag Order. (Church in Crisis)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Priests Say Bishop Issues Gag Order. (Church in Crisis)

Article excerpt

Under penalty of excommunication or suspension, a Pennsylvania bishop imposed a gag order for all his priests, forbidding them from voicing public disagreement with diocesan policy.

Speaking on condition their names not be revealed, some priests told The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown that the gag order had been issued by their bishop, James Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa., several months ago. The diocese is located some 80 miles from Pittsburgh.

The priests said that Adamec imposed the order after priests were publicly critical about possible church closings and about the way the diocese handled a 1994 sexual abuse lawsuit. In that suit, Adamec was criticized for paying more in attorney fees than to the victim of abuse by now-defrocked priest Francis Luddy. The diocese refused the paper's request for comment on the gag order.

Along with news of the order, the paper has reported that some victims of abuse allege the diocese has not followed the U.S. bishops' charter for the protection of children, which calls for the removal from ministry of priests credibly accused of abusing minors.

In the last month, seven men have come forward with lawsuits alleging abuse by diocesan priests. The suits do not name the accused priests as defendants because the statute of limitations has expired in the cases, but rather name Adamec, former Bishop James Hogan and the diocese for conspiring to protect the priests.

In one case, Anthony Coray, 39, has claimed he was molested over a two-year period by Fr. …

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