Priest Frederick James Lyons of Alexandria, La., now retired, has been stripped of his title of monsignor and sentenced to “a life of prayer and penance” decades after charges of sexual abuse involving minors were brought against him early in his priesthood.
The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria, Rev. Donald P. Herzog, sent Lyons’ case to the Vatican and suspended all of his priestly duties in 2006 after two charges of sexual misconduct with minors, The Town Talk reported. Alexandria residents were reportedly surprised when the allegations came to light.
Herzog announced the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’s decision Thursday, stating “I ask for your prayers for all who are affected by these accusations: victims, their families, our church and the accused.”
Herzog laid out the terms of Lyons’ punishment. Lyons will be forbidden from celebrating Mass in public, privately giving sacraments, except for confession in danger of death, preaching or participating in any public religious function and wearing clerical dress in public.
His priesthood will not be suspended.
In the statement, Herzog asked other victims of clerical sexual misconduct to come forward “in order that the healing may begin and justice can be served.”
Born in Astoria, N.Y., Lyons was ordained in 1952 after attended seminary in New Orleans. He was appointed monsignor in 1962 and retired in 1989 after serving in Alexandria, Cloutierville and Bunkie, La., WBRZ Baton Rouge reported.
BishopAccountability.org lists five priests, including Lyons, accused of sexual abuse in the Alexandria Diocese of Louisiana. The database also lists five in Baton Rouge, six in Houma-Thibodaux, 16 in Lafayette and 33 in New Orleans who have been publicly accused of similar offenses.