Acquitted Priest Warmly Welcomed Back by Congregation

Nov 26, 2002 12:59 PM EST

NEWTON, Ma. – After being acquitted of all sexual abuse charges, Monsignor Smith Foster, the highest-ranked member of the Roman Catholic clergy, was received warmly by his congregation in an emotion-lit atmosphere. As he walked to the altar, shaking the hands of the Sacred Heart parishioners during Mass, sounds of applause rung through the chapel.

As he stood at the altar, the clergyman gave thanks, attributing his vindication to the prayers of his congregation. “I felt like I had been cast in to prison,” said Foster, “By your prayers you clothed my spirit. By your concern through letters and calls and action you welcomed me into your lives when I felt like I had been cast into prison.”

Addressing the former youth group members and altar servers, who countered the abuse allegations brought on by a former altar boy, making Foster’s acquittal possible, he said, “You stopped what was happening in your lives and gave your time and support to me. I am overwhelmed by your loving support.”

Immediately following the incident in January, where court documents revealed the Boston archdiocese shuffled abusive priests between parishes, Foster who was the presiding judge of the archdiocesan tribunal that handles annulments and canon law issues, was taken in on accusations of abuse.

In August, Paul Edwards, a former altar boy, made accusations that Foster had sexually molested him in his rectory bedroom at Newton’s Sacred Heart parish between 1980 and 1985.

Immediately following Edward’s accusation, former altar boys and youth group members, testified and provided substantial information that countered the accusation. After they pointed out factual errors in Edwards’ testimony, his lawyer withdrew from the case and the lawsuit was dropped September 3.

After two accounts of being accused for sexual abuse, and two suspensions, Foster was reinstated last month.

Foster was restored as Judicial Vicar and Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston on Oct. 30, after the conclusion that he was innocent of all charges was reached.

“The archdiocese is delighted to have Foster back in full ministry,” said spokeswoman Donna Morrissey. “We’re going to work together to make sure we maintain and respect his good name.”

By Daniel Kwon
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