An area man is suing the area Catholic Diocese, alleging that the Catholic Church covered up sexual misconduct between a priest and the man's wife.
The unidentified man claims Father Joseph Matt fathered a child with his wife. The man says Matt now works in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph's headquarters helping guide parishioners who face marital difficulties.
The Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests announced the lawsuit in a news conference Monday afternoon. The man, his two sons, and his daughter are suing Matt and the diocese in Cass County Circuit Court. This includes the son fathered by the priest.
The man says he learned last year on his son's birthday that the son he had raised was actually fathered by the priest about five years earlier. The man says top church officials committed fraud and kept silent about the sexual misconduct.
"For seven years, the woman's husband raised the child as his own," said SNAP's Barbara Dorris. "It can't be consensual. This would like a therapist who had sex with his patient. It would be unlawful, which is true for priests."
The man says the long affair and ensuing lies tore his family apart. He and his wife are now getting a divorce. The affair began while the woman was receiving counseling after losing her job with the church, according to the husband.
In a statement, the diocese says the church first learned about the affair a year ago from the husband. The church says Matt acknowledged the affair and the resulting paternity test determining that he was the boy's father.
Matt now works at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Independence. He also helps Catholics seeking divorce determine whether they can get their marriages annulled by the church, according to SNAP.
The diocese says Bishop Robert Finn removed Matt from his assignment at St. Joseph in October 2010. Finn apologized to the husband in November 2010 and offered to pay for the family to receive counseling, according to the diocese.
Finn and Matt in February came "to an agreement" about Matt returning to the Independence ministry and continuing to serve on the Diocese's Tribunal, a church court.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:00:37 GMT
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