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Church Restricts Priest’s Ministry After Review

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Sunday that it is restricting the ministry of a priest who has been on a leave of absence, saying that while a review board found he did not violate church rules designed to protect youth, there was enough concern to limit his ministry.

The Rev. Joseph Gallatin will remain a priest, but his ministry will not involve minors, Archbishop John Nienstedt announced. Niesnstedt said Gallatin resigned as pastor of the Church of St. Peter in Mendota and will be reassigned to have no role in a parish setting.

Gallatin didn’t immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment. He’s been on leave since December after a board reviewing clergy files had revisited a prior allegation in which he was accused of a “boundary violation.”

The archdiocese said Sunday that the incident stemmed from a 1998 mission trip in which Gallatin rubbed the chest and abdomen of a sleeping 17-year-old boy, under the teen’s shirt, because the teen was snoring.

The teen told chaperones and the case was reviewed in 1998. At the time, the review board decided Gallatin needed therapy, evaluation and monitoring, Nienstedt said.

“He has actively participated in all requirements since that event 16 years ago and, to my knowledge, we have received no other allegations of inappropriate behavior with a minor against Rev. Gallatin,” Nienstedt said in his statement.

Nienstedt said law enforcement has been told of the incident and there have been no charges.

The Clergy Review Board determined that Gallatin did not violate rules designed to protect youth from sexual abuse, but the board was concerned by the incident and by recent evaluations of Gallatin and recommended that he continue to be monitored and that his ministry be restricted, Nienstedt said.

The archdiocese also announced Sunday that a deacon has been temporarily removed from ministry while the review board looks into a prior allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. The archdiocese said the deacon has consistently denied the accusation, which allegedly happened more than 40 years ago, before he became a deacon.

No criminal charges have been filed in that case. The church had previously found that the allegation could not be substantiated, but the matter was reopened as part of an ongoing review of clergy files.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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