Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Belleville Bishop Bans 4 from Ministry

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Belleville Bishop Bans 4 from Ministry

Article excerpt

Three priests and a deacon in the Belleville Catholic Diocese have been permanently removed from active ministries over allegations of sexual misconduct with minors, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville announced Friday.

Gregory also announced that one priest would be returned to active ministry after an investigation and another priest had been placed on administrative leave over allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Daniel Friedman will return to an active ministry. Friedman was removed in September as pastor of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Vienna, Ill., and as chaplain of Camp Ondessonk in Southern Illinois while an allegation of sexual abuse against him was investigated.

A diocesan review board concluded that Friedman was fit to be returned to an active ministry, Gregory said. He and Friedman declined to elaborate on the board's findings.

Friedman's new ministry "has not been defined as yet, and when it is, we will announce it," Gregory said. He said Friedman wouldn't be returned as camp chaplain.

The priest who is newly placed on administrative leave is the Rev. Raymond Kownacki of Belleville - over allegations of sexual misconduct with minors that date back more than 10 years.

The bishop declined to elaborate on the allegations against Kownacki, who most recently has been chaplain of the Poor Clare Monastery in Belleville and a minister to nursing homes in the diocese.

Gregory said Kownacki already had been "removed from any ministry involving any children prior to my arrival in the diocese." Gregory was appointed bishop a year ago.

Kownacki was unavailable for comment, and officials at the monastery declined to comment.

Friday's announcements mean that 11 priests and a deacon in the Belleville Diocese have been removed from active ministries over sexual misconduct allegations since March 1993. Friedman is the first of those to be returned to a ministry.

The allegations - most of which involve incidents said to have happened more than a decade ago - have rocked the diocese, which covers most of Southern Illinois.

Even so, Gregory said he had "the sense that this very painful moment is passing and that we are doing all we can to protect the children in our care . …

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