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SNAP of Tennessee

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee 

Bishop Steib returns priests to ministry




Bishop Steib returns priests to ministry
February 3, 2005

Bishop J. Terry Steib, S.V.D. announced Wednesday that he was returning to ministry Father Richard Mickey, pastor of St. Mary Church in Jackson and St. John Church in Brownsville.

Bishop Steib also returned to ministry Father William Kantner at St. Peter Village in Memphis on Jan. 29.

Bishop Steib noted that, after prayerful consideration and in consultation with his advisors, he determined that the allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor levied against Father Mickey were not credible.

His decision was made after he accepted the report of the Diocesan Review Board whose task is to advise the Bishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in the Bishop's determination of suitability for ministry.

Father Mickey will return to the parishes on the weekend of Feb. 19-20, 2005. Bishop Steib will preside at the Liturgy at St. Mary's at 5:30 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 19. Father Robert Ponticello, E.V., Episcopal Vicar for the Diocese of Memphis, has served as temporary administrator of the parish since Aug. 12, 2004, when Bishop Steib accepted Father Mickey's request for administrative leave.

Bishop Steib also noted that the civil lawsuit against Father Mickey, the Diocese of Memphis and Bishop Byrne High School continues and that the diocese will, consistent with the agreement reached with the District Attorney General's Office, continue to fully cooperate with that Office and the local and state authorities on all matters involving the protection of children and youth.

Father Kantner had been accused of sexual abuse of a minor by a person who is now an adult. After accepting the Diocesan Review Board's confidential recommendation, Bishop Steib returned Father Kantner to ministry last week because the allegations were not credible. Inconsistencies in the victim's testimony led to the conclusion that Father Kantner was falsely accused.