Former vice-chancellor of LI diocese cleared of sex abuse claim

A great deal of attention was paid when allegations of sexual abuse were made seven years ago against a former vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Monsignor Alan Placa, over an incident that allegedly occurred 34 years ago. It should not go unnoticed that the Vatican has found him not guilty of the allegations. It is not clear to me from the news accounts what the basis of the Vatican decision is - whether it ruled on the facts of what occurred, or if the decision is based on the statute of limitations in canon law.Newsday is reporting:

The Vatican made the ruling after a long investigation that included a trial before a church tribunal in the Diocese of Albany. The case was also reviewed by Romes Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which along with investigating sex abuse cases promotes and safeguards doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world.

With his priestly faculties now restored, Placa can again wear his collar in public and celebrate Mass and other sacraments. Moreover, the diocese said in a statement that the Vatican has instructed it to do what we can to restore his good name.

Placa, 65, has been living for about a decade at St. Aloysius parish in Great Neck, said diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan. He will continue to live there as a retired priest in good standing, the diocese said in a statement. However, Placa and Murphy mutually agreed Placa will not be given a diocesan assignment.

In addition to the high-profile position he once had held in his diocese - a position in which he dealt with complaints alleging sexual abuse - Placa was well-known because he was a close friend of Rudy Giuliani from their childhood days. According to the Daily News, he was best man at Giuliani's first wedding and the priest at his second. Giuliani employed Placa after the sexual abuse allegation was made, leading to some criticism of Giuliani when he ran during the last presidential campaign.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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