At Victim's Funeral, Archbishop Gives Apology for Abuse

By Elizabeth M. Gillespie
The Seattle Times [Seattle WA]
Downloaded February 23, 2003

Several hundred people filled Seattle's St. James Cathedral yesterday to mourn a 43-year-old man who committed suicide months after claiming he had been molested by a priest in Seattle's Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

The church called Jeff Alfieri's suicide a cruel reminder of its past failures.

"Your son's life was burdened, even tormented by memories of abuse by the hands of a priest," Archbishop Alexander Brunett said. "In the name of the Catholic Church, I offer you the deepest apology for all you suffered through the violation of this sacred trust."

A burly lawyer from Seattle who worked as a business agent for Teamsters Local 117, Alfieri was found dead in his car in Kirkland on Tuesday with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Last summer, he told the Seattle Archdiocese that the Rev. Gerald Moffat had molested him in the early 1970s, when Moffat was a priest assigned to Holy Family Church in Kirkland.

A lawsuit filed in November accuses Moffat of sexually abusing Alfieri during church-related trips and events, when Alfieri was about 11 to 13 years old.

Moffat, who has been placed on administrative leave since the allegations surfaced, could not be reached for comment. It is the only complaint against him, archdiocesan spokeswoman Jackie O'Ryan said.

During yesterday's homily, the Rev. Phillip Lucid praised the archbishop for offering to preside over the funeral, "aware of the complexities of Jeffrey's life and death."

In a eulogy that evoked both tears and laughter, Christopher Alfieri described his brother as a playful, generous jokester.

At least two other people in Washington state have committed suicide in recent years after alleging past abuse by priests.

At least 20 lawsuits claiming sex abuse by priests have been filed against the Spokane and Seattle dioceses in the past 18 months.


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