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Tennessee Deacon Removed From Ministry After Questioning Thoroughness Of Diocese’s List Of Predator Priests

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

The Nashville diocese removed a deacon from ministry after he questioned the thoroughness of their list of predatory priests and called for an independent investigation.

Rev. Joe McMahon sent a Nov. 30 letter to Deacon Ron Deal instructing him not to minister in the diocese until he settled his “public disagreement” with the diocese. Deal called into question the thoroughness of the diocese’s investigation into priests credibly accused of sexual abuse after noting their mistakes in releasing a list of such priests. (RELATED: Pope Francis Removes Two Cardinals From Cabinet, Close Advisers Under Investigation For Sexual Abuse Problems)

“My question to them is how do you propose ending it?” Deal told The Associated Press concerning the diocesan admonishment to end his dispute. “I would love to find a way to keep this issue front and center, but I’m not sure how we make that (resolution) happen if it doesn’t involve speaking openly.”

Deal noted that names were missing from the diocese’s initial version of the list and that one of the priests listed as dead was actually alive. The diocese issued corrections, but Deal called for an independent investigation into cases of alleged sexual abuse at a November press conference.

Rick Musacchio, spokesman for the diocese, clarified that Deal still received a pension and had not been officially suspended from ministry. He added that the path to resolving the issue would be for Deal to cease criticizing the church in public.

“The pastor has asked him to resolve the issue,” Musacchio told The AP. “It’s fair to say the public statements are tending to cause the confusion.”

A protester holds a sign during the annual US Conference of Catholic Bishops November 12, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. ( BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A protester holds a sign during the annual US Conference of Catholic Bishops November 12, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. ( BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Musacchio said the diocese would cooperate with any investigation launched by law enforcement, but Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests leader Susan Vance said the removal of Deal from ministry calls into question the diocese’s commitment to transparency.

“What does it say about transparency and openness when a deacon is removed for trying to assure that the whole truth is coming out from the diocese?” Musacchio asked. “We have many problems with the dioceses of Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis.”

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