A Roman Catholic priest whose decades-old molestation of a former altar boy led to a $6.3 million payout in an Illinois lawsuit has been kicked out of the priesthood by Pope Benedict XVI.
Diocese of Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton announced the move
involving 78-year-old Raymond Kownacki in a statement published in a
recent edition of the diocesan newspaper, The Messenger.
the papal decree calls the defrocking "for the good of the church."
Kownacki is living in a St. Louis-area nursing home and has refused
media requests for interviews. He has not been charged criminally.
Kownacki's misdeeds resulted in a $5 million jury award against the
diocese to James Wisniewski in 2008.
That payout grew to $6.3 million to
reflect interest that accrued while the diocese appealed.
Below is the official statement of the Diocese of Belleville, courtesy of their newspaper, "The Messenger":
The Diocese of Belleville has received a Decree from His
Excellency, The Most Reverend Gerald Louis Muller, Prefect of
Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith concerning Mr. Raymond F.
Kownacki, formerly a priest of the Diocese.
The Decree states that the
Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, having received a
report from said Congregation has granted a petition for a dispensation
from sacred celibacy and from all the obligations attached to sacred
ordination to Mr. Kownacki.
This means that Mr. Kownacki is no longer a
member of the clerical state and has been dispensed "prop bono
Ecclesiae" for the good of the Church. The dispensation took effect on
January 11, 2013 when Mr. Kownacki's petition for laicization are well
At the urging of His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton,
Bishop of Belleville, Mr. Kownacki petitioned the Roman Pontiff for the
The Bishop submitted the petition along with his personal
votum of approval to the Congregation and recently received a response.
With the decision from the Holy See, Mr. Kowanacki's name will no longer
appear in our Diocesan Directory, and he is no longer referred to as "a
Priest" or address as "Reverend" or "Father."
The Bishop asks everyone to join him in continuing to pray for all those
who have been sexually abused as minors.
Pray for Mr. Kowanacki as
The Bishop asks that you pray for their emotional and spiritual
healing and for their peace of mind.