Courts & Crime

KC diocese replaces vicar in charge of sex-abuse cases

The vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph no longer will oversee sexual-abuse allegations against priests, the diocese announced Wednesday.

Monsignor Robert Murphy, who has come under fire for his handling of a priest recently charged with possessing child pornography, will be replaced in that role, according to the diocese.

The Rev. Joseph Powers has been named the vicar for clergy, a new position.

The announcement came on the same day that a legal step was taken by plaintiffs who received a $10 million settlement from the diocese in 2008 in a sexual-abuse lawsuit.

On Wednesday, plaintiffs demanded the case be sent to an arbitrator, claiming the diocese has failed to abide by some of the settlement’s terms that were designed to protect children from abuse. The diocese has said it is complying in all ways.

The diocese’s announcement about Powers said he will assume some of the duties previously assigned to Murphy.

“As Vicar for Clergy, Father Powers will serve as a liaison for diocesan priests and oversee assignments as well as pastoral effectiveness,” the diocese said in a statement. “Father Powers also will assist the bishop with any allegations of clerical misconduct and will serve as an ex officio member of the Diocesan Independent Review Board.”

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