Archdiocese bars four men from priestly duty following sexual abuse allegations

The Detroit News/April 20, 2007
By Gregg Krupa

Detroit -- Four long-time priests suspended by the Archdiocese of Detroit several years ago amid allegations of sexual misbehavior were permanently removed from priestly duties after canon trials, the Archdiocese of Detroit announced today.

These are the final cases involving any allegations so far made public against Catholic priests in Metro Detroit in a long-running scandal that has roiled the American church for more than a decade.

Three of the priests -- Dennis Laesch, Ronald Williams and James Wysocki -- were suspended permanently from church duties, may never again wear priestly clothing or represent themselves as priests. While they officially remain clerics, the archdiocese announced, they should no longer be identified by the title "Father."

They may say mass and consecrate Communion, but only for themselves.

A more severe sanction was meted out against a fourth priest, Dennis Duggan, who was removed from the clergy, according to the archdiocese. The action against Duggan was termed "defrocked" in the Middle Ages when it was applied to monks. Now called "laicized," it means that the priest has been returned to the laity and is removed from the all priestly obligations, including the vow of celibacy.

"These decisions complete those cases of which we have been made aware," said Msgr. Ricardo Bass, a delegate to the Vatican for clergy matters.

Bass said that the archdiocese and Cardinal Adam Maida continue "to work for and pray for the day when those who have been touched in any way by these tragic events will be healed of the scars which they carry."

The allegations against the four men resulted from complaints that are at least several years old.

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