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Prominent New York ex-priest sues accuser for defamation

March 30, 2011

A prominent New York priest who was laicized by Pope Benedict has filed suit against the man who accused him of abuse.

“When he made this accusation in writing, [a former seminarian] knew it was false, and he made it with malice,” Charles Kavanagh alleged in his lawsuit.

Kavanagh, who has maintained his innocence, once led Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, supervised the famed Alfred E. Smith political dinner, and oversaw Cardinal John O’Connor’s funeral arrangements.


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  • Posted by: Tex132 - Mar. 31, 2011 12:47 PM ET USA

    I don't understand people's sympathy for the priest. If he was laicized, by the Pope no less, he had to have been guilty of something. It's not a quick or easy thing for a priest to be laicized. If the abused was lying I'm sure the tribunal investigating the case would have figured it out. Yet, the priest WAS laicized AND reparations were made. I love the Church, am loyal to it and the Magisterium but am sick and tired of people blaming the victims and the media for the abuse scandal.

  • Posted by: filioque - Mar. 30, 2011 11:08 PM ET USA

    It's one thing to ask a court to overturn a decision of a church tribunal. That would be interference in the internal affairs of a religious entity. But when accusations are made publicly, why can't the accused defend himself with a suit for defamation? I really don't understand the decision in the Illinois case. Maybe it's just the Chicago way.

  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Mar. 30, 2011 8:39 AM ET USA

    Good for the priest for taking the initiative, but if precedent is any indication, the court will not allow his suit to move forward. In 2009, when confronted with a very similar case, an Illinois court declared that such a lawsuit would "infringe on religious liberties."