Nashville deacon removed from ministry for ‘carrying on public disagreement’ over sex abuse crisis

Nashville deacon removed from ministry for ‘carrying on public disagreement’ over sex abuse crisis December 14, 2018

From NCR: 

A Nashville deacon who has raised questions about the completeness of the diocese’s recently published list of priests accused of sexual abuse has been removed from ministry for “carrying on a public disagreement with the Diocese,” according to a letter from his pastor.

In the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, more and more dioceses are moving to publish such lists, raising questions about who is — and is not — on them. Deacon Ron Deal first raised concerns in October, after an email to priests and deacons indicated the list would contain only nine names.

The Nashville Diocese eventually released a list of 13 names on Nov. 2; which was updated and corrected on Nov. 8, mentioning three more priests, including two Nashville priests accused of abuse in other dioceses as well as one religious order priest.

Deal and other victims and victims’ advocates believe the list is still incomplete and are calling on state law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Herbert Slatery, to open an investigation into cover-up in all three dioceses in Tennessee.

“We need an independent set of eyes,” said Deal, an attorney who formerly worked for the Nashville Diocese as a construction project development manager and headed the diaconate program.

Diocesan spokesperson Rick Musacchio said the October email to clergy was part of “an effort to make [the list] as complete as possible.” The voluntary release of names indicates the diocese’s “ongoing commitment to transparency, accountability and pastoral care,” he told NCR.

Deal said his “conscience is compelling” him to challenge the diocese, although he has no personal connection with sexual abuse.

…Deal told NCR that [his pastor Rev. Joseph] McMahon asked him not to speak negatively about the diocese in the parish or “from the ambo,” which Deal said he has never done. But Deal refused to agree to the pastor’s request that he not speak to the media.

“My conscience is compelling me to act this way,” Deal said. “I would love to find another way to get this message across that didn’t result in me having to be away from ministry. But unless somebody is willing to stand up and keep making an issue of this, it’s just going to recede into the background like it did in Boston.”

Deal added: “I don’t think it sends a particularly good message to silence a deacon.”

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