An Omaha priest has been put on administrative leave by Archbishop George Lucas after an allegation of sexual abuse.
The Rev. Franklin Dvorak, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Parish in Omaha, is accused of sexually abusing an 18-year-old female student between 1970 and 1972. He denies the allegation.
A letter written by Archbishop Lucas informing parishioners of the allegation was given to St. Elizabeth Ann and St. James parishioners at weekend Masses.
Deacon Timothy F. McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha, said the allegation was reported to law enforcement officials and the Archdiocesan Review Board.
McNeil said the board concluded after hearing the results of a preliminary investigation that the evidence met the church’s standard for a credible allegation.
Archbishop Lucas must now refer the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome. The CDF has sole competence in resolving allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed by clerics.
The CDF will review the findings of the investigation and make a decision about what happens next. The CDF could rule that there is not sufficient evidence of the commission of an ecclesiastical crime. Or the CDF may remand the case to Archbishop Lucas to be processed in a trial. The CDF may try the case in its own tribunal. It may direct Archbishop Lucas to treat the matter through an administrative penal process.
In cases in which the evidence is overwhelming, the CDF could refer the matter to Pope Benedict XVI for immediate dismissal of a priest.
The Rev. Dvorak was ordained in 1970 by Archbishop Daniel Sheehan. He was appointed pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann in 2007.