Allegations Stir Denver Diocese

April 12 2010, 10:07 AM

As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to meet with cardinals at the Vatican in about a week to discuss new allegations of sexual abuse in the United States, Canada, Britain, and Europe (via the Irish Times), Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has announced that Father Mel Thompson was relieved from active ministry following a complaint of "past sexual misconduct with a minor," an incident alleged to have occurred in the 1970s. Little more has been said about Thompson, who most recently served at St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, other than he maintains his innocence, reports The Denver Post, citing a statement from the diocese. The complaint arose earlier this month and brings into question Thompson's behavior at any number of churches in which he served during the '70s, including St. Rose of Lima, Good Shepherd (formerly St. John the Evangelist), Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Vincent de Paul parishes. Some parishioners, who learned of the removal Sunday at Mass, tell The Associated Press they will reserve judgment until more facts are known. Though the church has reported the case to authorities, a Denver police spokesman speculates that based on the timeline of the alleged abuse, it might be impossible to bring charges due to the statute of limitations, 7News points out. Meanwhile, renowned atheist authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are calling on British authorities to arrest the Pope when he visits the country in September, according to the Times (of London). "This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment," Hitchens charges.

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