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CC priest resigns amid allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor | New

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The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said he would continue to investigate, without interfering with a police investigation, allegations that one of his priests committed sexual misconduct with a minor.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades declined to go into details in the case of Reverend David Huneck, who engaged in “sexual and other misconduct, including with a minor,” according to a statement from the diocese.

“In accordance with diocesan policy, the diocese has informed the Ministry of Children’s Services of the allegations,” the statement said. “It was then passed on to the local police.”

It’s a “shock to all of us,” Rhoades said at a press conference on September 28.

According to the diocese’s statement, Huneck has resigned as pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church in Columbia City and chaplain of Bishop Dwenger High School. Huneck was also suspended from all public priestly ministry.

Rhoades assigned Huneck to these positions on May 18, 2020, and they went into effect on June 23. Huneck was previously the Parish Vicar at St. Jude Parish in Fort Wayne.

Huneck was ordained a priest on June 2, 2018 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. He received his master’s degree in divinity from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Huneck received his diaconal ordination in 2017.

Rhoades said he worked hard in the diocese to make it a safe space for young people and his heart went out to the victims as well as to the priests.

Rhoades said no one in the diocese had seen red flags before the charge was laid.

“Temptation and sin, I guess, is coming,” he said.

The diocese said it was following protocols required by the church’s 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth.

Since the charter, the Catholic Church, which has been rocked by allegations of mismanagement of cases of abuse and shuttle predatory priests from parish to parish for decades, has seen a “huge reduction in the number of cases,” Rhoades said.

The charter states that the following direct actions must be taken in cases of sexual abuse:

Create a safe environment for children and young people;

Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors;

Respond quickly and effectively to allegations;

Cooperate with civil authorities;

Provide accountability for the future to ensure that the issue continues to be addressed effectively through the Child and Youth Protection Secretariat and the National Review Board

Since 1975, 17 priests and deacons in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend have been charged with sexual abuse. Since 1969, seven priests and deacons of religious institutions have been charged with sexual abuse in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. A pastor has been removed from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for an allegation made outside the diocese.

Rhoades told the September 28 press conference that Huneck would be added to the list of priests who have been dismissed from the clergy after charges of sexual abuse.

In the 2021 progress report to the body of bishops sent by President Suzanne Healy in June, 4,250 allegations were made, but the majority dated back to 1960-1980.

“This large number makes it look like nothing has changed in the Church and we know that is not true,” Healy said. “The number of allegations reported this year is 22, which is less than the previous year.”

Healy wrote that improvement is still warranted in the area of ​​accountability as a measure by the National Review Board’s annual audits.

“We did not achieve our commitment to the Charter until we had 100% participation from all dioceses and eparchies,” she said.

There was no mention in the report of the involvement of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Rhoades’ last and first case as bishop was an abuse charge against former Reverend Joseph Gaughan who was assigned to the Most Precious Blood Parish. The diocese announced on December 14, 2019 that it had received a credible allegation that Gaughan sexually abused a minor more than 20 years previously. Gaughan was ordained in 1994. The case was referred to the Vatican in Rome, Italy. No other priest is currently under investigation, Rhoades said.

On October 4, Rhoades will celebrate evening mass at Whitley County Church and announce an interim pastor. A permanent replacement will be appointed in June.

“It teaches us, at number 1, trust in Jesus,” Rhoades said. “We are a church of saints and sinners. Our faith should not be based on one human being. There is always the good news of salvation.