The Diocese of Trieste has announced “with a spirit full of sorrow and dismay” that one of its priests, who had recently admitted to sexual abuse of a minor female, committed suicide on Tuesday. Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi of Trieste learned Oct. 23 “of a grave matter many years ago that involved a 13 year old girl” and Fr. Maks Suard, according to an Oct. 28 statement from the diocese. Fr. Suard, 48, was a priest of the Slovenian community of the Trieste diocese, and was parish priest of the small church of Santa Croce, in the territory of the Carso Triestino. He had served as a parish priest in several parishes of the San Dorligo area since his ordination in 1995; he was involved in the Boy Scout movement, and also worked as a teacher of religion in local schools. On Oct. 25, Archbishop Crepaldi met with Fr. Suard, and on that occasion “the priest had admitted his responsibilities” and consented to the canonical procedure which would have to be taken. In accord with St. John Paul II's 2001 motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, abuse cases — which are among the “delicta graviora”, or “more grave crimes” — must be forwarded to and investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The policy sped up and made more effective the Vatican's handling of such cases, which had been previously been handled by the Congregation for Clergy. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith can choose either to take over the case or authorize a diocesan trial, in which case the outcome must be forwarded to the congregation. After Archbishop Crepaldi had explained to Fr. Suard that he had to undergo the procedure, the priest “with humility and serenity of spirit, asked for two days during which he could prepare a resignation letter and a written statement in order to ask forgiveness from God, the Church, and the girl for the evil committed,” the diocese stated. The archbishop agreed, and arranged to meet with Fr. Suard the afternoon of Oct. 28, at which time he would officially notify the priest of his suspension and of the beginning of the canonical procedure. Archbishop Crepaldi “had informed Fr. Suard that he was going to arrive at around 4 pm,” and he got to the parish priest’s house around 4.30 pm. He found the rectory door locked, and received no answer to his repeated phone calls to Fr. Suard. He called the parish sacristan, who opened the rectory; once in the house, the bishop found the body of Fr. Suard, who had committed suicide by hanging. According a source in the Diocese of Trieste who spoke with CNA under condition of anonymity, the story of Fr. Suard was widely rumored locally, but until now no one had taken any measure. Archbishop Crepaldi had moved “as soon as he had gotten to know of the case, thus himself breaking a sort of wall of silence in the diocese.” This would be the reason why, the source maintained, “Fr. Suard wanted that the bishop himself would have found his corpse.” It is still unclear whether Fr. Suard left any written document, as he had said he intended to do. “The priest’s case had to follow its path, according to canonical and civil law, which would have perhaps helped him, in time, to a desirable human and Christian recovery, with respect to law,” the diocesan statement said. “This curia, distraught by the unexpected and dramatic repercussions of this story, entrusts the soul of the priest to the prayers of those of goodwill and to the mercy of the heavenly Father.”
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