Retired Catholic Priest Suspended by Diocese
The bishop of Raleigh Diocese of the Catholic Church has suspended a retired priest who now lives in Carthage pending an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct with a minor.
The Rev. Kenneth R. Parker, who served briefly at Sacred Heart in Pinehurst in the 1980s, is barred from performing any public priestly functions pending the investigation, according to a release from the diocese.
Parker was pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Newton Grove in 1982, the year the misconduct is alleged to have taken place.
After an 18-month absence, he came to Sacred Heart in Pinehurst on July 7, 1987, as associate pastor. The following year, he returned to Whiteville, where he had been a pastor previously, until his retirement in 1993.
"I am innocent of these accusations," Parker said, reached by telephone at his Carthage home Monday. "That is all I have to say. That is all I am telling the media."
Parker has not been excommunicated and may still celebrate the Mass daily in private. Suspension of his priestly faculties means only that he cannot hear confession, celebrate the Mass publicly or perform other priestly functions.
"The diocese received the allegation on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009," the Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, bishop of the Raleigh Diocese, said in the statement. "Dr. John Pendergrass, director of the Diocesan Office for Child and Youth Protection, and the diocesan victims assistance coordinator, met with the individual on that day."
The diocese offered to provide counseling at that time, the statement said. Then, acting according to policies of the diocese for the protection of children and young people, Pendergrass immediately reported the accusations to the chair of the Diocesan Review Board, according to the statement.
On the following Monday (Nov. 16, 2009), he reported the allegation to the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, following polices and procedures previously established by the diocese.
When Parker was informed of the allegation that same day, he denied the claim. The diocese then began its preliminary investigation into the allegation, acting according to obligations expressed in the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."
The results of that preliminary investigation were presented to the Diocesan Review Board on Jan. 15, 2010. That board evaluated the results and made its recommendation to the bishop, the release said. After accepting the board's recommendation, Burbidge informed Parker that his public priestly faculties were suspended.
"As required by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the matter is now referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Holy See for the next steps in the judicial process," the diocese said. "Bishop Burbidge has asked all the faithful in the Diocese of Raleigh to pray for all those involved during this difficult time."
No information as to whether any criminal charges have or have not been filed was available by press time.
According to the diocese, Parker, 73, was ordained for the priesthood for the Diocese of Raleigh on May 25, 1965, and retired in 1993.
"In his retirement, Father Parker has provided temporary assistance to parishes during the period when pastors are on vacation," the diocese said. "As with all priests, deacons, religious, lay employees and volunteers, Father Parker completed a background check which indicated no criminal record."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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