Priest removed from his duties by Roman Catholic Diocese of London

September 28, 2018

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of London has confirmed it has received allegations against Father Andy Dwyer, a long-serving priest in Windsor.

In a statement released to CBC News, officials with the diocese said Dwyer is being investigated for actions that allegedly occurred "many years ago."

Fr. Dwyer was recently removed from his duties as pastor at St. Vincent de Paul and St. Theresa's parishes in Windsor. The Diocese of London is responsible for the Windsor area.

The diocese would not disclose the nature of the allegations.

In its statement, the diocese noted it has a 'Safe Environment Policy' which states that "whenever credible allegations are made against any priest, deacon or lay ecclesial minister, that person is removed for the period of the investigation."

News of the priest's suspension evoked a mixed reaction from London lawyer, Rob Talach, who has been representing victims of clergy abuse for more than a decade.

"It's encouraging and concerning all at the same time," said Talach.

"The encouraging part is that there's a removal in response to an allegation, but removal or suspension is not the complete duty the diocese has here."

Talach said the lack of information about the allegations is among his concerns. He wants the public to be made aware if these allegations involve sexual misconduct.

"The Safe Environment Policy doesn't deal with anything but misconduct of either a physical, a sexual, or a moral nature," he said. "If you look at that policy, it's about 95% focused on sexual misconduct... So if the removal is pursuant to the Safe Environment Policy, it's a fair bet it's got a sexual foundation."

If that's the case, Talach believes the public should be told if the allegations involve children or adults, and exactly how long the allegations date back.

CBC News did try to contact Fr. Dwyer. He did not respond.

No mention of police involvement

Talach is also troubled that the statement from the diocese makes no mention of whether police have been called to investigate.

"This has been another major flaw on the part of the diocese over the decades. Nowhere have we ever seen, in writing or in practice, a willingness to go to the experts, the police, if criminal conduct is in question and asked for their involvement or their help," said Talach. "Look, if you're going to write a homily I'd ask a priest. If I'm going to investigate sexual misconduct, that's the last professional I'm going to get involved."

Windsor police would not confirm to CBC News whether it's been made aware of any allegations involving Fr. Dwyer.

Talach believes that, if the diocese wants to be fair to Fr. Dwyer, releasing more information would help alleviate speculation.

"Is this a single, one-off allegation? Is it an adult? Is it a child? Is it sexual? Is it not? The imagination can get away from us, and can do disservice if these [allegations] aren't what we think they are," said Talach. "Their present stance is not serving anyone but maybe themselves."

Published on September 26, 2018

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