OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Fr. Joseph Edward Bradley, a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro, has been reinstated by the Vatican.
“I am so happy I can hardly talk,” Father Bradley shared. “I’ve been on cloud nine.”
On March 1, 2019, Fr. Bradley was temporarily suspended from public ministry by Bishop William F. Medley following a recommendation by the Diocesan Review Board that an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor had been found credible.
“Having good friends like this that support me and are praying for me, that’s what has gotten me through it,” the priest added. “It has been very difficult. After two years, it was getting more and more difficult.”
Officials say a second allegation came forth with both dating from the 1980s when Fr. Bradley was Dean of Students and then Principal of Owensboro Catholic High School.
On April 25, 2019, The Diocesan Review Board recommended to Bishop Medley that the allegations be deemed substantiated.
Bishop Medley accepted the Diocesan Review Board’s counsel and submitted a report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican, recommending that Fr. Bradley’s temporary suspension from public ministry be made permanent.
Fr. Bradley, with his canonical counsel, filed an appeal of this decision with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Bishop Medley says he received word last week from the Vatican immediately reinstating Fr. Bradley’s priestly faculties and lifting the restrictions applied.
“When the letter came, I was telling them I was almost afraid to open it because you don’t know what the news is,” Fr. Bradley recalled.
He says the Vatican decree notes “given the imprudent behavior of the cleric throughout the course of his ministry in education, the Congresso (Vatican body) imposes a penal precept (restriction) on the cleric, according to canon 1739, through which he is forbidden to enter any primary or secondary school for a period of five years.”
Fr. Bradley was already retired but worked part-time in a voluntary capacity as chaplain at Owensboro Catholic High School when the allegations were made.
“It’s a universal church,” Fr. Bradley shared. “It takes a long time for cases to be heard and especially during the pandemic. I just kept telling myself it will happen. I knew I was innocent and I just thought ‘it is going to happen’.”
Father Bradley turned 78-years-old two days after he received the news from Rome.