Two Boston priests laicized

BRAINTREE -- In two separate and unrelated incidents, two priests of the Archdiocese of Boston were laicized after voluntarily requesting to leave the priesthood following allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

The archdiocese announced on Aug. 20 that Robert P. Beale and Dennis A. Keefe are "no longer in the clerical state" in a statement released by spokesman Terrence Donilon. As a result of the laicizations, the two men will not receive any monetary support from the archdiocese nor function in any way as a priest except offering absolution to the dying.

The decision was made by the Vatican.

In 2002, Beale was accused of sexually abusing minors in the 1970's, and upon receiving the allegations, the archdiocese placed him on administrative leave in 2002 and restricted him from public ministry.

"The conclusion of this process provides an important opportunity for me to again apologize for the crimes perpetrated by clergy and for the suffering so many members of our community have endured," Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley said in a statement announcing the Holy See's decision. "I remain committed to providing pastoral care and support services to all who have been harmed by the tragic reality of clergy sexual abuse."

Keefe was accused of abusing a minor in 1995. He was placed on administrative leave and restricted from public ministry that same year.

In announcing the Holy See's decision, Cardinal O'Malley reiterated his concern for all who are impacted by clerical sexual abuse and encouraged anyone in need of support to contact the archdiocese's Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach.