DALLAS—Bishop Charles Grahmann of Dallas suspended 68- year-old Father Kenneth Roberts from the active priesthood Nov. 13 after the priest disregarded orders to discontinue a national online ministry, which received as many as 50,000 hits a day and included work with Catholic young people.
Bishop Grahmann had wanted the priest to end the ministry for some time because of several accusations of improper sexual behavior dating to the '70s, including one case the diocese settled out of court for $30,000. Because of those past incidents Roberts had been required since 1995 not to work with adolescents or men younger than 30.
A spokesman for the diocese, Lisa LeMaster, said that Roberts was warned in July, August, and October to end an Internet ministry on AOL, including a cyberspace club for young Catholics interested in vocations. LeMaster said that Roberts had been given a deadline of Nov. 5 but had not complied.
Suspension from the active priesthood does not mean that Roberts is returned to the lay state. Rather, he is forbidden to celebrate Mass, perform any other sacraments, or wear clerical garb. In order to avoid the implication that he is a priest in good standing he is also forbidden to use the title “Father.”
Roberts became nationally well-known as a result of an autobiographical book, From Playboy to Priest and was in demand as a speaker and pilgrimage leader. He also wrote audio and video tapes and magazine articles about reported visions of Mary in Medjugorje.
The dioceses of Dallas has also requested that his television shows be removed from EWTN. (Staff)