Retired Priests with Cape Ties Suspended Due to Sex Abuse Allegations

FALL RIVER – Two retired priests with ties to Cape Cod have been suspended from ministry by the Diocese of Fall River due to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

The allegations against Father James Buckley and Father Edward Byington are said to have occurred decades ago.

Buckley previously served at St. Joan of Arc Parish, in Orleans; St. Augustine Parish, on Vineyard Haven; St. Margaret Parish, in Buzzards Bay; and Holy Redeemer Parish, in Chatham. He also served at parishes in Fall River and North Easton. He was ordained in 1959 and retired in 2001.

Byington spent time at St. Francis of Xavier Parish in Hyannis. He also served at parishes Attleboro, Fall River, Taunton, Westport, Seekonk and Somerset.

Byington was ordained in 1970 and retired in 2006.

The claims were referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies and will remain under investigation by the diocese.

Both priests have denied the allegations.

The suspension from ministry is required by diocesan policies.

Although both priests are retired, they have assisted with the celebration of Masses in various parishes since their retirements.

“Nothing is more important than the welfare of all members of our diocesan community, especially anyone who has been harmed or impacted by abuse in any way,” said Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.

“The Diocese of Fall River remains committed to resolving these matters in as fair and as transparent a process as possible and to ensuring the safety of all youth and vulnerable adults.”

The diocese recently hired Carolyn Shipp, a licensed social worker, as the diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator in an effort to improve its Office of Safe Environment. She will focus on pastoral outreach to victims and survivors.

“As a social worker, I am here to listen to anyone with concerns and to connect survivors to the resources they need,” Shipp said.

Anyone with information they wish to raise regarding the conduct of any past or present member of the Diocese, is encouraged to contact Shipp at 508-985-6508 or by emailing [email protected]

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