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Retired Archdiocese of Detroit priest, 96, restricted amid sexual abuse allegations

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The Archdiocese of Detroit has restricted a 96-year-old retired priest from ministry following sexual abuse allegations officials said were credible.

The Rev. Lawrence Fares "cannot wear clerical dress or present himself as a priest and his name has been added to the Archdiocese of Detroit’s online listing of clergy accused of sexual abuse of a minor," officials said in a statement.

The update was announced this week after a finding by the Archdiocesan Board of Review.

In July 2019, the archdiocese learned of an allegation from Fares' early years in ministry that had been reported to law enforcement.

Lawrence Fares

Later that year, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office authorized the archdiocese to start a canonical law investigation, which led to officials hearing a second allegation. When the probe ended, the case was presented to the Archdiocesan Review Board, which deemed the allegations credible, the archdiocese said.

"An allegation is considered credible if it has a 'semblance of truth,' meaning it appears to be or could possibly be true," the archdiocese said. "There remains a presumption of innocence until and unless an individual is found guilty in secular or Church proceedings."

Fares entered senior/retired status in 1997 and had most recently served at St. Ronald in Clinton Township, according to the archdiocese.

Ordained in Rome in 1950, Fares joined the Detroit archdiocese in 1977 and was associate pastor at St. Louis in Clinton Township from 1977-78; Assumption Grotto in Detroit, 1978-84; and Our Lady Queen of Heaven in Detroit, 1984-85.

He also served as administrator at St. Thomas the Apostle and Most Holy Name of Jesus, both in Detroit, in the late 1980s, the archdiocese reported.

According to a post announcing his 96th birthday last year on the website for St. Peter Parish in Pacifica, California, Fares lived in the parish and has published books in both Arabic and English.

Also this week, the archdiocese said the Franciscan Friars (Province of St. John the Baptist) alerted church officials of eight friars and former friars "with substantiated child sex abuse allegations against them. The findings involve cases dating back to 1940."

The eight had previously served in ministry or lived in the Archdiocese of Detroit but were not priests there. 

They include Raymond Chappa, OFM; Kent Hajduk, OFM; Bro. Kenneth Hendricks, OFM; Marcan Hetteberg, OFM; Carter Partee, OFM; Juvenal Pfalzer; Bro. Mark Schornack; and Bro. John Schreck. 

Residents with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other church representatives are asked to contact local law enforcement or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or aginvestigations@michigan.gov. They can also contact the Archdiocese of Detroit at protect.aod.org, (866) 343-8055 or emailing vac@aod.org.