A Roman Catholic priest has been removed from his position as parish priest and suspended from all ministerial duties while the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's investigates an allegation of wrongdoing.
The church won't say what the nature of that allegation is. In a statement released Saturday, the archdiocese did clarify that the complaint made against Father Wayne Dohey of St. Patrick's Parish in St. John's is not related to a court case involving the alleged embezzlement of parish funds.
Archbishop Martin Currie addressed the matter during mass Sunday at St. Patrick's Church and spoke with reporters following the service.
"We received a complaint, and according to our protocol now, when we receive a complaint - because in the past we were accused of not acting on complaints and following up on them - so the minute we received a complaint, we have suspended Father (Dohey) from the ministry and removed him from the parish here, as the investigation is ongoing," Currie said.
For now, the archdiocese is handling the investigation. Currie said he hopes to see the investigation conclude "quite quickly."
"I'm always very saddened when these things happen - when allegations or complaints are levelled against any of our clergy - no matter what the nature of it is," said the archbishop. "We've been trying lately to do the best we can to be a church which is open and transparent, so that's why I say we're trying to act on these matters as quickly as we can."
Parishioners leaving the church after the 11 a.m. mass on Sunday expressed mixed feelings about news of Dohey's suspension.
"Father Dohey has been here for a number of years, and he has been very good for the parish," said Gwen Daly, who added she was sad to learn of his suspension and intended to pray for all parties involved. "He's very approachable, he's kind, he's pleasant, and we'll wait and see what comes of (the investigation)."
One woman leaving the church said she would continue to support Dohey and the parish. Another said she was disappointed by the news. The majority of those leaving the church Sunday declined comment.
The priest's suspension marks the second time in less than a month that St. Patrick's Parish has been in the news. Last month, charges of fraud, theft and forgery were laid against Dianne Coady. After hearing from the parish priest in August 2012 about suspected fraudulent activity, the archdiocese ordered a forensic audit of parish finances.
The archdiocese received the results of that audit in January of last year and then turned the matter over to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.