.- After news broke that the former president of Human Life International, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, stepped down abruptly from his position last year because of “inappropriate conduct,” the pro-life organization released a statement on Feb. 2 in response to the situation.
Fr. Euteneuer admitted on Jan. 31 that he left HLI in August 2010 after “violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care.”
“I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions. I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed,” he added.
In their Feb. 2 statement, HLI explained that last August they received allegations “of inappropriate conduct by Rev. Euteneuer involving a young adult woman, which occurred within the context of his exorcism ministry.”
“The Board immediately commenced an inquiry into the allegations, and Rev. Euteneuer admitted inappropriate conduct. At that time, Bishop Gerald Barbarito recalled Rev. Euteneuer to the Diocese of Palm Beach, and HLI sought and received Rev. Euteneuer’s resignation.”
The HLI statement added that since the time of Fr. Euteneuer's resignation, the board “subsequently learned of additional allegations in connection with his exorcism ministry.”
The statement qualified, however, that because the priest no longer serves as president of HLI, “we are not especially endowed with the competence or authority to investigate, evaluate, or act on these additional allegations, but they have been submitted to the proper ecclesiastical authorities.”
“HLI received certain assurances that Rev. Euteneuer was no longer engaged in public ministry and therefore, until this time, in our efforts to observe Catholic teaching, we have avoided comment.”
Fr. Euteneuer said on Jan. 31 that his offenses had been limited to one woman and “did not involve the sexual act.” He added that the “difficult situation … has already been handled appropriately by Church authorities for nearly six months.” He said that no “financial settlement” had been paid out in connection with the matter.
Fr. Euteneuer left his post as head of one of the world’s largest pro-life organization without warning last year, citing a need for “rest and renewal.” In a Aug. 27 letter, he said that after touring 58 countries, authoring two books and making “thousands” of public appearances, he was “ready for a break.”
Fr. Euteneuer also said at the time that Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito had called him back to his home diocese of Palm Beach, Fla.
He had been president of HLI since 2000 and was one of the pro-life movement’s most visible spokesmen.
HLI noted in their Feb. 2 response that the Diocese of Palm Beach and the “proper ecclesiastical authorities” will address Fr. Euteneuer's admission and subsequent allegations and asked that “the HLI family continue to pray for all those involved.”
“HLI has not been, and will not be, deterred in its fundamental mission as pro-life missionaries to the world, and we likewise ask for the prayers of all that support HLI’s work that this critical mission will never be undermined.”