Archbishop Chaput on Why He Dismissed Reverend Melvin Thompson

April 13 2010, 11:20 AM

In a column that is to appear in the Denver Catholic Register today, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput writes that some parishioners at St. Thomas More church in Centennial took issue that Reverend Melvin Thompson was relieved of his priestly duties following a complaint of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred more than 35 years ago in an undisclosed Colorado parish. Some grumbled about the "unfairness" of the dismissal, taking place just one day after the unsubstantiated accusation, which Thompson, 74, has denied (via The Denver Post). Chaput says the decision was necessary: "In removing Father Thompson, or any member of the clergy from the ministry in a situation like this, we act purely to ensure the safety of children, families, and the integrity of the church community." Florida attorney Adam Horowitz, who has litigated several of the more than 40 cases against the archdiocese, says Thompson's speedy removal was a change from the church's past track record, although archdiocese officials claim a zero-tolerance policy has been in place in the United States since 2002. Thompson is the second Denver Archdiocese priest removed under the 2002 guidelines, according to the diocese. The first was Father Timothy Evans, convicted in 2007 of sexual assaults in Larimer and Jefferson counties. Meanwhile, the Vatican is attempting to defuse allegations that the Catholic Church has covered up clerical sex abuse for years by saying that bishops must "always" report such crimes to the police (via the Times of London).

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