Three Cincinnati priests on leave for misconduct have been laicized

Cincinnati — Three priests of the Cincinnati archdiocese who have been on administrative leave because of allegations of improper behavior involving minors have been dismissed from the clerical state by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"I hope that this resolution will bring some measure of closure and healing to anyone harmed by these priests," Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati said in a statement issued Tuesday.

He said that with this decision, all the cases presented to the doctrinal congregation "have been dealt with and we have no more priests of the archdiocese on administrative leave."

The three former priests are Thomas Kuhn, Thomas Feldhaus and Ronald Cooper. Following a canonical process, the archdiocese said, they have been permanently removed from both the rights and the obligations of the priesthood.

It said the Vatican's doctrinal congregation affirmed a decision made by a panel of three judges in another diocese that the men be laicized. All three had served as associate pastors and pastors in numerous parishes over the years since they were ordained.

Support independent Catholic journalism. Become an NCR Forward member for $5 a month.

"I deeply regret that any representative of the local church has ever harmed a child under our care," Schnurr said. "We remain committed to enforcing our policies to provide a safe environment for children under our care, and to ministering to survivors of abuse."

Kuhn, who was ordained in 1967, was put on administrative in 2002 after law enforcement officers seized the office computers at St. Henry Parish in Dayton, where he was pastor. In 2004, he was convicted of 11 misdemeanor charges of public indecency and providing alcohol to minors. He violated terms of his probation on those charges and served 30 days in jail.

Feldhaus, who was ordained in 1976, was put on administrative leave in 2003 after an allegation was made that he had inappropriately touched a minor on two occasions around 1979. A priest on administrative leave may not celebrate the sacraments, engage in priestly ministry, or present himself as a priest in any way.

Cooper, who was ordained in 1983, was put on administrative leave in 2004 as a result of an allegation that he inappropriately touched a minor sometime between 1983 and 1984. An adult male reported to the archdiocese that when he was a teenager Cooper inappropriately touched him several times at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Bridgetown, where Cooper was then an associate pastor, and at the Friar's Club in Cincinnati.

Cooper acknowledged the contact with the minor but said his actions were without sexual intent.

Schnurr urged anyone who has been abused at any time by "an agent" of the Cincinnati archdiocese -- priest, deacon, employee or volunteer -- to contact Cherie Groman, coordinator of the archdiocese's Ministry to Survivors of Abuse, and at the same time to report any incident of abuse to the appropriate civil authorities.

A news release from the Office of Communications said the archdiocese also will alert the prosecuting attorney of the county where the victim resides, "as it does with every report of child abuse that it receives."


Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here

Advertisement