PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Until three months ago, retired priest Richard Terdine, accused of molesting a 16-year-old boy in the 1980s, was still serving Mass at churches around the Pittsburgh Diocese.
It wasn’t until Bishop David Zubik found that Terdine had been cited in the 800-page grand jury report that the diocese restricted him.
“Would no longer be able to go around to other parishes to have Mass,” said Monsignor Ronald Lengwin.
Terdine is listed on the diocesan website as a having an unsubstantiated claim against him. But, in 1988, he was accused of patting a boy on his genitals, then giving him an x-rated tape and some condoms. Confronted, Terdine denied touching the boy but conceded he gave him pornography, the condoms and a back rub.
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In 1990, a “professional assessment” determined that Terdine was a “low risk” for acting out sexually, and then-Bishop Donald Wuerl re-assigned him as a hospital Chaplin, but restricted him from working as a pastor.
Then, a second review in 2003, found that he could continue to serve both as a Chaplin and also serve Mass, restoring that privilege. It something the diocese now says it regrets.
“Probably, if we were reviewing this case today, we would make a different decision,” said Monsignor Lengwin. “But we had, again, a full psychological assessment that said he could be returned to ministry and that’s what we went with.”
So even when he retired in 2009, Terdine continued to serve Mass as a fill-in priest around the diocese; and until recently, was at St. James Catholic Church in Sewickley.
Bishop Zubik has now stripped Terdine of the ability to serve Mass; although, Monsignor Lengwin concedes that should have been done long ago.
“Things are changing in life, the way we look at things, and certainly, this is one of the things were looking at differently. You live and you learn sometimes,” Monsignor Lengwin said.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has also added new details to their online list of clergy accused of sexual abuse. They’ve added a new column to the listing which gives the year that each allegation was reported to civil authorities.