Catholic Church officials reinstate Enid priest

Sunday, March 16th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) _ Catholic Church officials have reinstated an Enid priest who was accused of sexual abuse last year after a review board could find no evidence to support the allegations.

Oklahoma City Archbishop Eusebius Beltran released a statement Saturday in the Sooner Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, announcing James Mickus' reinstatement to active priestly ministry.

`Father Mickus will immediately resume the public celebration of Mass and other sacramental duties without restriction,'' Beltran said.

Beltran asked this his statement be read aloud from the pulpit to each congregation that attended mass Sunday at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where Mickus was the pastor.

Mickus will not return to St. Francis but will be formally assigned to a new position in June, when assignments are usually made, Beltran said.

``Where he will be assigned, we don't know yet,'' Beltran said.

On June 26, Beltran notified parishioners at the church that he had removed Mickus because a man called the archdiocese's pastoral response hot line and said Mickus had sexually abused him 20 years earlier.

Church policy then required Beltran to remove Mickus from active ministry while investigating the allegation.

On July 5, Mickus filed a lawsuit against his accuser, claiming the allegations were false and had damaged his reputation and caused his removal.

Mickus and Stephen Jones, who is representing Mickus in his civil suit, could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Beltran said the matter was referred to the independent Archdiocesan Review Board which, ``after a careful and critical investigation conducted with sensitivity for the complainant, reported to me that it was unable to substantiate the allegation.''

Beltran said he can find no reason to continue Mickus' administrative leave based on the board's findings and the evidence available.

``I also conclude that there is no evidence to indicate that any child would be placed at risk by returning Father Mickus to priestly ministry,'' Beltran said.