AUBURN - The Catholic Diocese of Rochester has removed the pastor at Holy Family Church in Auburn for allegedly sexually abusing a Rochester child more than 30 years ago.
According to a statement released by the Diocese, the Rev. Dennis Shaw has been placed on administrative leave and his priestly faculties have been withdrawn. He can no longer exercise public ministry in any capacity." The alleged incident dates to the late 1970s, according to the statement. Shaw was then serving at the now-closed St. Francis of Assisi Church in Rochester.
Shaw was ordained in 1972 and served at a number of Rochester churches before coming to Holy Family in 2005, according to the statement.
No further details about his alleged misconduct were provided; neither Shaw nor the church responded to requests for comment. Shaw was not present for Sunday's services, though he wrote a message in the bulletin.
The message did not address his departure.
Denise Bennett, a longtime member of Holy Family, called Shaw "a great, great man" and "probably the most loved priest who's ever been priest at Holy Family.""I miss him already," Bennett said. "I know he's incapable of harming another human being and I love him no matter what."Shaw was instrumental in establishing Chapel House, Auburn's only homeless shelter, in 2007.
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He was also outspoken about official Catholic policy, including its disapproval of homosexuality.
"At the same time that the Pope is so anxious to extend the hand of brotherhood to those who are not of his "flock," why does he seem so eager to antagonize others who are? I am thinking especially of gays, lesbians and women in general. Some of the most horrific statements made by church people about homosexuals have been uttered during Pope Benedict's watch," he wrote in the church's Sept. 26 bulletin. "The fact that the Catholic catechism continues to describe homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered" is not only an egregious insult, it might also offend the God who is the only Creator of us all."
Rev. Gary DiLallo, the deacon at St. Hyacinth Parish, said that Rev. Michael Conroy is filling in for Shaw at Holy Family, at least temporarily.
When asked about Shaw, DiLallo said, "I can't say anything, but we're praying for him."