Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has assigned Bryan M. Kuchar, a formerly active priest of the St. Louis Archdiocese scheduled for release from jail Aug. 30 after a sex-abuse conviction, to a temporary stay in a "secure and monitored residence" within the archdiocese.
The archdiocese continues its efforts to remove Kuchar from the priesthood through a laicization decree from the Vatican. By Church law, the archdiocese still has responsibility for Kuchar until there is a decision from the Vatican, archdiocesan officials said.
In a recent letter to Kuchar, Archbishop Burke reminded Kuchar of his vow of obedience to his bishop and ordered him not to perform any duties of a priest or to wear clerical garb after his release from jail. The archbishop also directed Kuchar not to speak to the media about his situation.
The archbishop’s recent letter to Kuchar told him that the archdiocese will not pay him a salary but will pay for health care until there is a decision from the Vatican on the laicization request.
Kuchar, 39, was sentenced to three years in the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton following his conviction by a jury in August 2003 on three counts of statutory sodomy.
The victim is in his mid-20s and testified at the August 2003 trial that the sexual abuse occurred in 1995 when Kuchar was associate pastor at Assumption Parish in South County.
Kuchar was ordained in 1993. Since his conviction, archdiocesan authorities have attempted to have him laicized. The process has been prolonged because Kuchar has exercised his right to legally challenge the efforts for laicization, archdiocesan officials said.
Because most offices at the Vatican are closed during August, no final decision by the Vatican was expected before Kuchar’s expected release date from jail.
The archdiocese reached a financial settlement with the victim’s family that was partially covered by insurance; one other allegation against Kuchar that arose after his conviction has been settled.
Archbishop Burke has met with the family of the victim.
Kuchar will be required by Missouri law to register as a sex offender within 10 days of his release.
The archdiocese partially covered legal expenses for Kuchar during his trial. However, the archbishop stated in his Aug. 11 letter to Kuchar, "Any and all legal expenses you might incur on or after Aug. 30 next will be your personal responsibility."
The archbishop, in his directive to Kuchar, also offered advice for his spiritual state.
"I take this opportunity to encourage you to be faithful to daily participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in eucharistic adoration.I recommend to you frequent sacramental Confession.Then, too, I urge you faithfully to pray daily the Liturgy of the Hours and the rosary of Our Blessed Lady.I am confident that the practices of daily meditation and spiritual reading will be of great benefit to you, as well as those pious devotions which are of special significance to you," the archbishop wrote to Kuchar.
The archbishop concluded the letter by noting that he was writing about the Kuchar situation to the priests of the archdiocese and its seminarians as well as inserting an article about it in the Review "for the good of the Church."