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January 3, 2011
Statement on Father Mel Thompson’s restoration to priestly service and retirement
In April of 2010, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. removed the priestly faculties of Father Mel Thompson, placed him on administrative leave and made the necessary report to civil authorities. The archbishop acted in accord with archdiocesan policies for the protection of children and young people, because of an allegation made against Father Thompson of sexual misconduct 30 years ago with a minor. From the beginning, Father Thompson has maintained his innocence of this allegation.
When allegations of sexual abuse of a minor arise, the Archdiocese of Denver relies on the Archdiocesan Conduct Response Team, made up of professional laypersons and the archdiocesan vicar for clergy, Msgr. Bernie Schmitz, to investigate thoroughly the claim. Over the past seven months, the team has interviewed the parties involved and spoken with others who might have helpful information regarding this allegation. Based on their investigation of the facts, the members of the Conduct Response Team have unanimously concluded that the allegation against Father Thompson is not supported by the evidence they reviewed. They have recommended to Archbishop Chaput that nothing impedes Father Thompson’s return to active ministry. Therefore, in light of the Conduct Response Team’s recommendation, Archbishop has restored Father Thompson to priestly service, effective immediately.
Father Thompson has requested retirement. Having reflected on his experience of the last seven months and his current health issues, Archbishop Chaput has granted his request.
In a letter read to parishioners in the parishes where Father Thompson has served, Archbishop Chaput acknowledged that any allegation of this nature creates immense pain both for the accuser and the accused. He expressed his gratitude to all for their patience throughout this very demanding process and assured the people of the Archdiocese that the safety of children and families is – and will remain – a priority for the Church. He also asked parishioners to keep the local Church and everyone affected by these matters in their prayers.