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Peters’s duties still cut

Meghanne Downes | Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Former Sorin rector Father Sam Peters is still prevented from public ministry after he admitted in May to an inappropriate relationship with an adult female, said Dick Nussbaum, attorney for the Congregation of the Holy Cross’s Indiana Province.

Nussbaum said Peters remains a priest and member of the Indiana Province, though he is not allowed to administer sacraments, practice public ministry and priestly other priestly duties.

He did not provide contact information for Peters and said Peters was not in Indiana.

Nussbaum said the Indiana Province determines which priests are eligible to perform public ministry, but added that Peters is currently not undergoing the “extensive” process to defrock a priest, which involves both the province and the Vatican.

Peters’s future is yet to be determined by the province, and he could theoretically be granted faculties, Nussbaum said. It is uncertain whether Peters will be able to resume public ministry.

“It is pretty clear he won’t [be allowed to perform priestly duties] in the immediate future,” Nussbaum said.

In early May, the University abruptly fired Peters for what University spokesman Matt Storin called an “inappropriate sexual relationship with an adult female.” Storin declined to comment in May on whether the woman was a student, saying the University would protect her identity.

A member of the woman’s family alerted University officials of the relationship. Within days, Peters admitted to the relationship and was removed as rector of Sorin Hall, a post he had held since September 2001. The former rector is banned from Notre Dame’s campus.

Storin said in May that he did not know the length of the relationship, but that it was clear it had occurred during the 2002-03 school year.

A May statement from the Indiana Province apologized for Peters’s actions.

“It will be important for him to re-examine his life priorities and his fidelity to them,” the statement said.

Peters told Notre Dame Magazine for a spring 2003 article on Holy Cross priests, “I’m the happiest guy you’ve ever met who’s poor, celibate and obedient.”

Several Sorin residents said in May Peters frequently talked about how happy he was with his celibacy.

The Vatican originally delayed Peters’s ordination because, as a recovering alcoholic, he could not drink wine at the altar. In September 2001 he made his religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. A year later, the Vatican granted Peters a special dispensation and he was officially ordained a priest.

Before becoming rector at Sorin, he served at St. Joseph High School and Christ the King Catholic Church in South Bend and St. Pius X in Granger.