Superior Diocese suspends retired priest over 'inappropriate conduct' allegationsby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio,
Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — Members of a sexual abuse victims' group say they pushed a Wisconsin diocese to go public with allegations against a retired priest.
Bob Schwiderski, with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said his organization learned of the allegations against retired priest Fr. Robert Urban and had to press church officials to go public.
"In this case I do feel that Bishop Christensen wants to do the right thing, but sometimes those of us that feel the pain have to do a little prodding," Schwiderski said.
The Catholic Diocese of Superior confirmed on Wednesday that it suspended the 77-year-old priest after allegations of "inappropriate conduct" with an unnamed individual. The public statement comes two weeks after the Superior Police Department received a report about the allegations.
Fr. Urban has been retired from active ministry for 13 years, diocese officials said. He moved to Superior several years ago, and has assisted parishes in the area.
The diocese statement says, in part, "On April 1, 2010, Bishop Christensen received a secondhand report that Fr. Urban may have had inappropriate conduct with a person who may or may not be under the age of 18."
The diocese said that they immediately reported the information to authorities and placed Fr. Urban on an "indefinite suspension removing his faculties as a priest." The suspension will continue until the allegation can be verified as true or false, the statement said.
The Superior Police Department is investigating the allegations. At this time, no charges have been filed.
The allegation comes amid a global clergy abuse scandal spurred in part by controversy over how the Catholic Church handled allegations of abuse against a priest in the Milwaukee area. In recent weeks, the case has raised questions about how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with abusive priests in his past church roles.
The Superior diocese said that prior to the information received on April 1, "there have been no allegations made which would suggest Fr. Urban was involved in inappropriate behavior with minors."
Madeleine Baran is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.