Lincoln, Neb., Aug 13, 2018 / 10:50 am
In a listening session at a local church in Lincoln, Nebraska, Bishop James Conley updated members of his diocese on a review of policies for handling allegations of abuse and misconduct by priests.
“This transparency and objectivity I promise you will include a thorough review of our safe environment policies and procedures by an outside investigator,” he said Aug. 10 to those gathered at St. Wenceslaus Church in Wahoo.
The bishop responded to several allegations against priests in the Diocese of Lincoln that have recently been published online.
“These allegations have already resulted in the start of a thorough review of our policies and procedures regarding how we respond to allegations made against diocesan priests.”
Conley said that he has presented several cases to the Diocesan Review Board, and is continuing to meet with the board for further counsel. He has assembled a group of senior advisors – including staff members, a mental health expert, and officials from the Archdiocese of Omaha – to help evaluate allegations of abuse.
He has also held several listening sessions at parishes affected by recent allegations against priests.
Conley held a listening session at St. Peter’s parish last Monday to discuss the behavior of pastor Fr. Charles Townsend. He said the message from the 500 attendees was clear: “they desire transparency and objectivity, and that is my promise to you and all the faithful in the diocese as I move forward.”
The bishop had previously addressed the allegations against Townsend in an Aug. 4 letter, saying that last year he “received a report that Fr. Townsend had developed an emotionally inappropriate, non-sexual relationship with a 19-year-old male which involved alcohol.”