Vatican dismisses retired priest from clergy, following celibacy-related allegations

Nicki Gorny, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
·2 min read

Apr. 8—A local retired priest has been permanently dismissed from the clergy as a result of allegations presented to the Vatican last year that he violated his vow of celibacy.

The allegations involve adults, not children, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo, which put out a statement on the status of Francis Anthony Murd on Wednesday. Spokesman Kelly Donaghy said the diocese is not aware of any related criminal investigations.

The Diocese of Toledo received allegations of Mr. Murd "gravely violating his priestly promise of celibacy with adults" in December, 2019, according to the statement. The local diocese opened a preliminary investigation at that time, and at its conclusion in February, 2020, Bishop Daniel Thomas issued a canonical precept restricting the priest's ministry.

After its formal canonical process, the diocese turned the case over to the Vatican in August, according to the statement. The Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy in turn determined the priest's actions merited dismissal from the clerical state, and notified the local diocese of its decision in late March.

"Accordingly, Mr. Francis Murd is no longer a cleric of the Diocese of Toledo and cannot exercise priestly ministry in the Church," the diocese wrote in its statement.

Mr. Murd resigned as the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Sylvania in 2008, when he came under criminal investigation regarding an accusation of improper sexual contact with an adult in a hot tub at the Sylvania YMCA/JCC. He stood trial later that year and was acquitted of misdemeanor sexual imposition.

The Blade reported around the same time that he had previously been arrested on a public indecency charge in Sandusky County in 1998.

Advertisement

After his acquittal in 2008, then-Father Murd was appointed chaplain to the Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin. He retired from the priesthood in 2012 and continued serving as chaplain of the congregation of sisters through 2020, Ms. Donaghy said.

The Tiffin Franciscans declined to comment.

Claudia Vercellotti of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests reacted to the announcement on Wednesday, tying Mr. Murd's dismissal to his previous criminal case.

"It's too little, too late for Father Murd's victim in 2008," she said. "However, I hope his removal from priesthood will bring healing and solace to those left in his wake, particularly that victim who had the courage to take the stand in 2008."

Mr. Murd was ordained in 1976.

First Published April 7, 2021, 3:52pm