The Rev. Jack Kennington admits playing strip poker with children, so why isn’t he stripped of his priesthood, the kids’ mother is asking.
“I think it’s an outrage,” said Christine Lyons Holzwarth, whose children Brendan and Bridget Lyons claim Kennington molested them for several years in the 1980s, beginning at age 9 and 13, respectively.
“After he admitted playing strip poker with the kids, I can’t imagine why they would keep him on and not expel him,” said Holzwarth, a Manhattan resident. “I want to make sure he’s out of service, and not dealing with kids anymore.”
Kennington, who was sued by Brendan Lyons in a case, denied molesting the kids, but conceded having played strip poker with them. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount last year.
The alleged molestation at times involved Kennington sexually touching one child or the other while their sibling watched.
Neither he nor officials at his Catholic religious order, the Redemptorist Fathers, returned calls asking why he retains a job as a priest, or whether he is barred from working with kids.
Kennington lives in upstate Esopus, in a retreat house, where he does work on the Shroud of Turin, which some believe to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ.
Asked during a deposition whether he thought playing strip poker with children violated his chastity vows, he said he was “afraid” to answer the question.
Stripping a Catholic priest of his status for molesting children is “still rare,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “Even more upsetting is that they never have, as far as I know of, disciplined or defrocked a priest who failed to report abuse” by a brother cleric, he said.
Clohessy said defrocking is an arduous process, and “sometimes, I think they only defrock only the most egregious molester” to limit financial harm and public-relations fallout from lawsuits.
And “bishops have shown a remarkably naive believe that pedophilia can be cured,” he said.