Church mum on
priest’s actions

The local bishop finds credibility
in allegations of sexual misconduct

» Priest's former flock saddened
» Sex abuse accusations involve 6 clerics with isle ties

By Mary Adamski

The Catholic Church in Hawaii will not reveal the details of the sexual misconduct accusations that led to removing a local priest from public ministry.

No further action will be taken by the local diocese against the Rev. Joseph Bukoski, 49, who was removed as pastor of Maria Lanakila Church on Maui, according to diocesan spokesman Patrick Downes.

Honolulu Bishop Francis DiLorenzo notified Bukoski in an Aug. 1 letter that he is "canonically removed" from serving as a priest here. DiLorenzo also notified Bukoski's superior in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, the Rev. Clyde Guerreiro.

Neither Bukoski nor Guerreiro responded yesterday to requests for comment. Bukoski earlier appealed to the Vatican to intervene, saying he had not been given his rights to due process under canon law and diocesan policy. He denied an initial allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor, and said Friday he has not been given an opportunity to hear a second accusation or to respond to it. Both complaints date back more than 20 years.

More than 1,000 parishioners and supporters signed a petition asking for his return after Bukoski was put on administrative leave in May while the first complaint was investigated.

The bishop followed legal procedures, said the Very Rev. Joseph Grimaldi, judicial vicar for the Honolulu diocese. He responded yesterday to queries raised by supporters whether the Sacred Hearts religious order, which has provinces in Europe and the mainland, might move Bukoski to an assignment elsewhere.

"There are church laws that allow a bishop to control who serves in his diocese. It is his prerogative to accept which religious (order members) are going to work in this diocese," he said. "When a priest requests to work in another diocese, the two bishops have to talk.

"This has been very painful," said Grimaldi. "The bishop has the faithful of the whole diocese that he must be concerned about. He is not only bishop of the priests. He has to make difficult decisions."

Grimaldi is one of three priests on the eight-member Standing Committee for Sexual Misconduct that advises DiLorenzo. Also on the board are two psychologists, three lawyers and a family therapist, three of whom are not Catholic.

Bukoski complied with the committee's advice and entered a Seattle clinic for psychological evaluation in June. The report from Therapy and Renewal Associates is not expected until mid-August.

"It is the property of Father Bukoski and Sacred Hearts. It is up to them as to whether they would want to share it," Downes said.

He said the bishop was not bound to wait for the evaluation before acting. "Essentially, it was because of the accumulation of evidence.

The second allegation strengthened the previous recommendation of the standing committee.

"The person making the accusation has been in contact with Father Gary Secor (committee chairman) over a period of several weeks. The allegation was corroborated by other credible people and because of this accumulation of evidence, the bishop found veracity in the second allegation.

"He felt that he had to make public the second one, and went further to canonically remove him from pastorship of Maria Lanakila," Downes said. The decision means Bukoski may not function as a priest anywhere in Hawaii, he said.

Bukoski said Friday that he has appealed to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, to intervene, saying canon law and diocesan procedures have not been followed. He said then that he endorsed a supporter's criticism of DiLorenzo. In the news release, Jan Passamonte, financial officer of Maria Lanakila parish, said the bishop "was very upset and unnerved by his rightful challenge to authority" and released information about a second accusation in retaliation against Bukoski.

Bukoski, who was born on Kauai, was pastor of the Maui parish for four years and previously served as judicial vicar, a canon law adviser, for the Honolulu diocese. In 1995, he led an island delegation to the beatification of Father Damien DeVeuster, the most famous Sacred Hearts member. Bukoski assisted at the ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, where Pope John Paul II declared Damien blessed for his work with leprosy patients in the 19th Century. Bukoski is currently living at the Sacred Hearts Center in Kaneohe.

Guerreiro is at a Philadelphia conference this week where officials of religious orders for men are being briefed about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' new sex abuse policy.

The American bishops agreed in June to bar sexually abusive clergy from any work for the church but stopped short of recommending that the Vatican remove them from the priesthood.



Priest’s former flock saddened

LAHAINA >> Some parishioners at Maria Lanakila Church said they were saddened to learn that Father Joseph Bukoski III would not be returning to their congregation.

Mathew Dauenhauer, president of the Parent Teacher Guild of Sacred Hearts School, said the parishioners and parents of the school are fully behind Father Bukoski and in favor of his return.

"I think the man is a wonderful man, and I support him 100 percent," Dauenhauer said yesterday.

Honolulu Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo told Bukoski in a letter that he was being removed from public ministry in the islands "because of the accumulation of evidence" regarding two allegations of sexual misconduct with minors more than 20 years ago.

Dauenhauer said he has not seen the letter and described the decision of the diocese as "a shocker."

Church member Robert Derks noted, "There's going to be an awful lot of disappointed parishioners."

Derks also had not seen the letter from the diocese informing Bukoski of its decision but he described Father Bukoski as a good friend and priest. "He's just a wonderful human being. He was loved by parishioners. He'll be missed."

Church member Consolacion Perlas said she hoped Bukoski will be successful in his appeal to the Vatican.

"When he came over here to our parish, he did a very good job," she said. "We'd like him to come back."

Gary T. Kubota, Star-Bulletin



Sex abuse accusations involve
6 clerics with isle ties

By Mary Adamski

The removal of the Rev. Joseph Bukoski from public ministry was the first action taken in the Hawaii diocese this year as the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal that began in Boston spread to other U.S. cities.

Accusations have surfaced against a total of six priests with Hawaii ties. All of these recent sexual misconduct allegations brought to the diocese involved claims about incidents at least 20 years old.

One previously unpublicized complaint was revealed last week in the Hawaii Catholic Herald.

The accuser claimed to have been abused as a child more than 40 years ago on Oahu. The priest, who is retired and lives in Hawaii, denied the accusation.

The diocesan Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct took written statements from both parties and investigated. "Given the limited information available, there was no way to satisfactorily verify the incident," so no action was taken, according to the Catholic Herald.

Diocesan spokesman Patrick Downes said it is the only case besides Bukoski's that has gone through all the steps in the diocese process for handling sexual misconduct accusations.

Other cases that arose this year:

>> A suit was filed July 31 against the diocese by Alexander Winchester, who claims he was molested as a child by the Rev. Alphonsus Boumeister, who died 30 years ago at age 84. Because it is in litigation, the case will not be reviewed by the committee, Downes said.

>> In June, Glenn Gravela charged that a retired priest sexually abused him in the 1960s at the Naalehu parish on the Big Island. The priest, 84, now retired to the mainland, denied the accusations. The matter is in the hands of the New York headquarters of the Maryknoll religious order, to which the priest belongs.

>> A California man has written the diocese with claims about abuse while he was an altar boy at a Honolulu parish in the 1960s. The diocese has not investigated because the man refuses to name the priest, Downes said.

>> Darick Agasiva and Fa'amoana Purcell filed suit in May, accusing the Rev. Roberto DeOtero of sexually molesting them as altar boys in a Honolulu parish in 1985-86. DeOtero left Hawaii in 1987 and now lives in California. He left the military chaplaincy in 1992 following an allegation of sexual misconduct and was removed from public ministry in 1993 by Bishop Francis DiLorenzo. Because the case is in litigation, it will not be examined by the diocesan committee.

>> Bukoski denied the accusation brought to the diocese in April, claiming sexual misconduct in 1982 while he was assigned to St. Patrick Church in Honolulu. Both Bukoski and his accuser, whose name has not been released by the diocese, were required to file statements with the standing committee.

A second complaint against him -- dating to his seminary days 25 years ago -- was revealed in the Catholic newspaper last week. Bukoski said Friday that he was not notified of the accusation nor given the opportunity to respond.

DiLorenzo has said he removed four priests implicated in sexual misconduct from public ministry after he arrived in 1993. They included DeOtero.

Among its misconduct allegations, the diocese has never counted the case of a former Tripler Hospital chaplain who was convicted in an August 1998 molestation of a 13-year-old boy at Maunalua Bay Beach Park in Hawaii Kai. The Rev. Mark Matson, 52, was sentenced to 20 years in May 2000 on counts of third-degree sex assault, attempted first-degree sex assault. He had no tie to the local diocese.

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