Abuse victim reacts after Tri-State priests defrocked by Vatican
Priests put on paid leave at least 10 years ago
By John London
OCtober 28, 2014
CINCINNATI —It was a poignant moment Tuesday as a victim of abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest stood across from St. Peter-in-Chains Cathedral and spoke about the Vatican's decision to permanently remove three Tri-State priests.
"Too little, too late," was how Dan Frondorf phrased it.
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As he pondered the Vatican's action, he wore a laminated picture of himself. It hung from a lanyard and showed him at age 17, when he was abused by Father Lawrence Strittmatter, who was dismissed by the Vatican eight years ago.
Strittmatter was the principal at Elder High School during Frondorf's freshman year.
Father Thomas Kuhn succeeded him. It has now been a dozen years since Kuhn was put on administrative leave and a decade since his conviction on public indecency and providing alcohol to minors.
"(Tuesday’s) action and their suspension for the past 10 years only meant that they couldn't be around Catholic kids," Frondorf said.
Frondorf, now 49 and active in the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, pointed to his teenage photo.
"I don't bring it out that often, but I am wearing it because I think this is something we've been calling for for 10 years about these three priests," Frondorf said.
Kuhn, Thomas Feldhaus and Ronald Cooper are no longer part of the Catholic ministry. They have been permanently removed by the Vatican.
Archdiocese of Cincinnati spokesman Dan Andriacco said both then-Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and current Archbishop Dennis Schnurr tried to speed the process of removal along during their respective visits to the Vatican.
But "…due process was involved that took as long as it did, just as that happens in civil cases in the United States as well," Andriacco said.
In a written statement, Schnurr said, "I hope that this resolution will bring some measure of closure and healing to anyone harmed by these priests. With this decision, all of the cases...have been dealt with and we have no more priests of the Archdiocese on administrative leave. As Archbishop, I deeply regret that any representative of the local Church has ever harmed a child under our care. We remain committed to enforcing our policies to provide a safe environment for children under our care, and to ministering to survivors of abuse."
Kuhn was the only one of the three removed priests to serve jail time.
He and the others were paid during their years of administrative leave. They were not permitted to carry out priestly duties while awaiting the final decision of the Vatican.
Tuesday afternoon, Frondorf cautioned against assuming abuse is past history.
Although applauding the church for the reform efforts it has made, he pointed again to his picture as a youth as a reminder about human fallibility.
"The bottom line is you really can't trust anybody and so I think that's an important lesson,” Frondorf said.