(circa 2007, Courtesy:The Mountaintop Eagle)The Diocese of Scranton has removed Rev. Mark Honhart from active ministry. The priest was named as a defendant in a child sex abuse civil suit in Kansas City, Missouri after a credible allegation.
The Diocese made the announcement on its website on February 8th. It did so in a news release announcing clergy appointments and indicated Honhart was granted a Leave of Absence for reasons of health. Here's the link:
A month later, the diocese issued a statement on its website concerning Honhart in which it acknowledged, the allegation and seemingly grandstanded its swift action. Here's the link:
The diocesan statement came only after the story broke in Kansas City.
Here's the problem. Must the faithful now assume that all priests granted a leave of absence are suspected child molesters? The answer of course is, "no." But by failing to deal accurately with this priest's removal, the Diocese has only created confusion and suspicion.
According to the Bishop Accountability Project, nineteen priests in the Diocese of Scranton have been accused of sexual molestation.
In fairness, Father Honhart is accused civilly, not criminally charged and innocent until proven guilty.
It seems the accused (and yes they are only accused) are protected by a quickly closing circle of collegiality. This is destroying any credibility the Diocese of Scranton has left in dealing with a most egregious sin.