It was done quietly and without much publicity, if any at all, but the Roman Catholic Church has defrocked George Ansel Smith.
Smith, 79, was a parish priest in western Newfoundland for 20 years, starting in 1969.
During that time, he abused several young boys. In 2013, he was sentenced in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook to 11 years in prison for 38 offences involving 13 victims.
Last week, he was sentenced in provincial court in Corner Brook to another 15 months for abusing another young boy between 1978 and 1980.
The Western Star had been referring to Smith as a retired priest.
Since the latest sentencing, however, the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador has issued a statement on its website advising that Smith was actually dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis in January 2014.
Bishop Peter Hundt, who said the diocese initiated the request after Smith’s first convictions in 2013, said the process was considered more of a housekeeping matter at the time and the diocese was not compelled to announce publicly that Smith had been defrocked.
“It was an internal church matter and we didn’t feel any need to make a big issue of it,” Hundt said Wednesday. “He had already been in the news for what he had done wrong and we dealt with that (request for dismissal) once the criminal trial was over.”
Such a decision is reserved for only the most serious and scandalous actions by a priest. The diocese filed a report with the Vatican about what happened, and also made the request to Rome that Smith be stripped of his clerical status.
The public statement recently released noted the diocese has developed extensive procedures to foster a safe environment for all the members of its faith community and has also developed a clear policy and procedure for replying to allegations of sexual misconduct.