• Vatican defrocks 3 Mass. priests


    WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - The Vatican has defrocked three priests from the Worcester Diocese who were accused of sexual abuse.

    David Blizard, Thomas Kane and Robert Shauris can no longer function as priests in any capacity. The Vatican stripped the men of the priesthood last year but held off announcing it until the period for appeals expired, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Tuesday.

    Kane and Shauris voluntarily agreed to be defrocked, while the Vatican's Congregation of the Faith decided to expel Blizard from the priesthood, according to the diocese.

    "I ask the Catholic community to join with me in prayer for healing for anyone who has been abused by these men or anyone in the Catholic Church," said Worcester Bishop Robert McManus.

    "Allow me to echo the poignant words of Cardinal Francis George at the meeting of cardinals in Rome on Monday that 'the wound is still deep in their hearts, and as long as it's with them it will be with us,'" McManus said. "May we never lose sight of this."

    Shauris has been on leave from the diocese since 1991. In 2002, the diocese settled a lawsuit by two men who claimed Shauris had nonconsensual sex with them during the 1980s when they attended St. Bernard's Catholic High School in Fitchburg, where Shauris taught.

    Kane was removed from ministry in the 1990s over allegations of sexual abuse in the 1970s. The diocese settled a lawsuit by a man in 1993 that accused Kane of abusing him for several years, beginning when he was 9. The man said the abuse occurred at a Northbridge treatment center for sexually abusive priests that Kane co-founded.

    Blizard was removed from ministry in the late 1980s after church officials found abuse allegations against him credible.

    The former priests could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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