Vatican Reinstates Priestly Faculties for Fr. Joseph E. Bradley

On March 1, 2019, Fr. Joseph Edward Bradley, a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro, 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. 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.

The Diocesan Review Board, a 12-member group formed in 2002, as mandated by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, undertook an investigation and on April 25, 2019, this 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.

Last week, Bishop Medley received word from the Vatican immediately reinstating Fr. Bradley’s priestly faculties and lifting the restrictions applied.  However, 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 immediately informed by Bishop Medley of this decision.

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.