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Newspaper reports 16 priests have committed suicide

At least 16 Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children have killed themselves since 1986, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The numbers were found in an investigation after the 4 April suicide of Fr Don Rooney, a priest in the Cleveland Roman Catholic Diocese who faced allegations that he sexually abused a child.

Fr Stephen Rossetti, director of the St Luke Institute in Maryland, a treatment centre for abusive priests, recently sent an email to every US bishop urging care in investigations involving priests and saying he feared more priests would kill themselves as additional accusations were made.

After the email was sent, a priest accused of molesting two boys in Connecticut hanged himself at the centre, where he was being treated. It was the first suicide at the institution in its 25-year-history.

``Imagine you're a priest,'' said Kalman Kaplan, a psychology professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who studies suicide. ``People see you as a teacher, an educator, someone carrying on the moral tradition from one generation to the next. Now it's being publicly exposed that you have abused children.

``Where do you go from here? Your whole identity is shattered. The shame can be overwhelming, the options few.''

After Rooney killed himself, Cleveland Bishop Anthony Pilla preached a message of forgiveness at Rooney's funeral Mass.

``The meaning of Fr Rooney's death is hidden from our eyes,'' Pilla said. ``Yet, we cannot conclude that his life and death had no meaning or were rejected by God.''

St Luke Institute
Priest tied to sex abuse hangs self
(Boston Herald 17/5/02)

Treatment center referrals based on needs of individual (Catholic Universe Bulletin)
When Priests Commit Suicide (The Plain Dealer)


28 May 2002