This item moved while I was out of town, but it’s a significant step, involving a priest at the center of the Kansas City sex abuse crisis who himself was once accused of abuse:
The vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph no longer will oversee sexual-abuse allegations against priests, the diocese announced Wednesday.
The Rev. Joseph Powers has been named the vicar for clergy, a new position.
The announcement came on the same day that a legal step was taken by plaintiffs who received a $10 million settlement from the diocese in 2008 in a sexual-abuse lawsuit.
On Wednesday, plaintiffs demanded the case be sent to an arbitrator, claiming the diocese has failed to abide by some of the settlement’s terms that were designed to protect children from abuse. The diocese has said it is complying in all ways.
The diocese’s announcement about Powers said he will assume some of the duties previously assigned to Murphy.
“As Vicar for Clergy, Father Powers will serve as a liaison for diocesan priests and oversee assignments as well as pastoral effectiveness,” the diocese said in a statement. “Father Powers also will assist the bishop with any allegations of clerical misconduct and will serve as an ex officio member of the Diocesan Independent Review Board.”
Powers will continue as pastor of the Co-Cathedral in St. Joseph, the diocese said.
“With Father Powers assuming the duties of Vicar for Clergy, we strengthen our administrative oversight of the diocese and draw upon Father Powers’ pastoral experience in urban, rural and suburban parishes throughout the diocese,” Bishop Robert Finn said in the statement.
Murphy will continue to have responsibility for general administration, directly supervising chancery employees and serving on diocesan boards and committees, Finn said. He also will remain as pastor of St. Bridget parish in Pleasant Hill.