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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
US priests suspended over sex claims
child
Not all the allegations have been substantiated
Six Roman Catholic priests have been suspended from duty in the United States because of past allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Archdiocese of New York has not released the priests' names, because not all the allegations have been substantiated.


The priests in question have been informed that they are not to present themselves as priests... at least until the matter is further clarified or resolved

Church statement
The Catholic Church in the United States has been rocked in recent months by accusations of child sex abuse involving priests, and is facing mounting criticism that it covered up those cases for decades.

Last month, the Pope broke his silence on recent allegations, saying they were casting "a dark shadow of suspicion" over all priests.

This latest announcement comes less than a week after the New York archdiocese gave the Manhattan district attorney's office a list of cases involving priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors.

Cardinal case

At the weekend, the head of the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States revealed he had been accused of sexual misconduct with a teenage schoolgirl.

Pope John Paul II
The scandal has rocked the Catholic Church

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles strongly denies the allegations, which were made last month, but relate to an incident more than 30 years ago.

He said he had asked for investigations by both police and the church.

He is believed to be the most senior sitting American church official to be accused of sexual misconduct.

Suicide

Also on Saturday, a Catholic priest accused of sexually molesting a girl two decades ago was found dead after apparently committing suicide.

The body of 48-year-old Father Don Rooney was discovered slumped in his car in a shopping centre car park in Cleveland, Ohio, with a gunshot wound to the head, police said.

A suicide note was reported to have been found nearby.

The allegations, which came to light after the unnamed woman contacted church leaders, have not been fully investigated or substantiated.

See also:

04 Apr 02 | Americas
NY church reveals 'sex abuse' list
04 Apr 02 | Americas
Vatican sued in sex abuse cases
02 Apr 02 | Americas
Paedophile priests 'damage church'
21 Mar 02 | Europe
Pope denounces 'evil' sex priests
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