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Msgr. Charles M. Kavanagh

New York monsignor defrocked after sexual abuse charges

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Msgr. Charles M. Kavanagh

Msgr. Charles M. Kavanagh, a once-influential Roman Catholic monsignor who oversaw fund-raising for the Archdiocese of New York, has been removed from the priesthood after an eight-year church review of accusations that he sexually abused a seminarian in the 1980s, according to The New York Times.

One of the highest-ranking priests in New York to face accusations of sexual misconduct, Kavanagh, 73, has denied the charges that were brought against him by Daniel Donahue, 46, a former student at the former Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Manhattan.

In 2003, the monsignor contested an archdiocesan review board’s finding of guilt, then asked the Vatican to authorize a formal trial by a tribunal of priests from another diocese. They also found him guilty, so he sought an appeal from a second tribunal.

The spokesman for the New York archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, said that the second tribunal concluded its review on Wednesday, ruling that he should be defrocked.

Said Donohue: “I’m glad for the validation of my credibility.”

However, he criticized the church’s judicial process. “For eight years, I never knew where the process was,” he told The Times. “I have classmates who are going through similar processes. I just hope it doesn’t take eight years for them, too.”

In a statement made on Friday, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, a successor to Cardinal O’Connor, said: “Although all of this took place before my arrival as archbishop, I am well aware of the seriousness of the charges involved in this case, and I am grateful for the careful way that it has been handled by my predecessor, Cardinal Egan, and by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I would like to take this occasion to renew our apologies to all those who have been harmed by the sin and crime of sexual abuse, and in particular to apologize to the gentleman who was the victim in this case.”

Since 2002, nineteen priests in the archdiocese have been discharged from the priesthood, but Kavanagh is the only one to have pursued all available appeals.

On Friday, a family spokesman said that Kavanagh would not comment, but Ann Mandt, who identified herself as the former monsignor’s sister and lawyer, said he remained adamant that he had never abused Mr. Donohue or anyone else. She added that he is now disillusioned with the church.

“After more than eight years,” she wrote, “he and his family now know that the church, in reaction to its own mistakes and as a way of ‘cleaning up a mess’ it created, has decided that ‘the good of the church’ must come before a person’s rights and any sense of due process.”

The statement concluded: “He is an innocent man, and he will never give up his fight for justice. We pray that people will stand with him in this struggle.”

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