Washington D.C., Apr 23, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).
The Archdiocese of Detroit will proceed with a “canonical disciplinary process” against a priest accused of the sexual abuse of a minor, after the Vatican declined to move forward with a canonical investigation.
The priest, Fr. Eduard Perrone, was the pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) parish in Detroit. Perrone has not served in public ministry since 2019, after the accusation was made against him and the diocese conducted a preliminary investigation. He maintains his innocence.
In an April 13 statement, the archdiocese explained that approximately two years ago, it began a canonical “preliminary investigation” of the allegations against the priest. After this review, the archdiocese forwarded the allegations to the Vatican.
However, the archdiocese said that it could not take action in the case after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) would not move forward with its investigation of Fr. Perrone.
“The CDF has informed the Archdiocese that – without ruling on the merits of the allegations against Fr. Perrone – it has decided not to proceed in this particular case,” the archdiocese stated. “Therefore, no further action can be taken in this case under church law.”
The CDF, the archdiocese said, “has the sole authority in the Catholic Church to issue a determination in such cases.”
Fr. Perrone will remain restricted from public ministry, the archdiocese said, and cannot present himself as a priest. The 72 year-old Perrone will still receive the financial assistance and benefits accorded to all diocesan priests.
“In its communication, the CDF acknowledged that due to Fr. Perrone’s purported actions during the investigation, the Archdiocese has the authority to address his conduct through the means available under the Code of Canon Law,” said the statement.
The archdiocese added that “he [Perrone] maintains the rights of defense and the presumption of innocence in all matters.”
The archdiocese added that they will not be commenting further until the disciplinary process has finished.
Fr. Perrone was ordained a priest of the archdiocese in June 1978. The complaint against him was received in 2018, according to the archdiocese – his first recorded complaint as a priest.
The archdiocese declined to provide details of when the alleged incident took place, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation. It did confirm that the alleged incident concerned Perrone’s “earlier years of ministry.”
After receiving authorization from the CDF, the archdiocese conducted a preliminary investigation, the first stage of a canonical process, into the allegations against Perrone.
A subsequent presentation to the Archdiocesan Review Board “found that there was a semblance of truth to the allegation,” Monsignor Mike Bugarin told CNA in July 2019.
Bugarin serves as Episcopal Vicar and Delegate for Matters of Clergy Misconduct in the Detroit archdiocese.
The archdiocese suspended Fr. Perrone from public ministry on July 7, 2019.
While speaking to CNA, the monsignor avoided describing the charges as either “credible” or “substantiated” and emphasized that at this stage the only conclusion had been of a “semblance of truth.”
Semblance of truth is a legal standard in canon law usually defined as “not manifestly false or frivolous”; it establishes only that an allegation cannot be immediately dismissed as factually impossible.
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