ST. CLOUD - A statement released on Tuesday by the Diocese of St. Cloud revealed that Anthony Oelrich can no longer exercise any sacred ministry in the church nor engage in any leadership roles in the church. This move also means he lost the ability to earn a salary, housing, and medical benefits from the diocese. He will also lose the title of Father.
On Tuesday, St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler released a statement in regard to Oelrich, "I previously indicated that I would conduct a formal review of his status after civil and criminal proceedings against him had concluded. This review was initiated and included interviews with a variety of people, including those impacted by his actions. After reviewing all of the information, I recommended to Father Oelrich, and he agreed, that he should seek laicization - being dispensed from the clerical state - from the Holy Father. This process has been completed and Father Oelrich has been laicized."
In 2018, Oelrich was charged with criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. He was sentenced to prison for initiating sex with a woman who went to him for spiritual guidance, an act he himself described in court as "criminal." She had disclosed to him that she had previously been sexually abused in 2013.
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In the statement, Kettler goes on to ask "to please pray for healing for all victims-survivors of sexual abuse and for those wounded by the Church in any way. As we approach the season of Advent, may we find renewed hope in thepromise of Christ as we prepare to welcome him into our lives and into our hearts."
Oelrich has worked as a priest in the Diocese of St. Cloud since 1992 and until 2018 was the priest assigned to Christ Church Newman Center.
Bishop Kettler encourages anyone who has suffered abuse to report it to local law enforcement. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse may also contact the dioceses' victim assistance coordinator or victim advocates for support and access to resources for healing. Information is available on the diocese's website at stcdio.org/about/accountability.
This article originally appeared on St. Cloud Times: Anthony Oelrich is being "dispensed" from the clerical state