Priest Who Says He Was Forced to Resign Sues

Associated Press, carried in Duluth News Tribune
July 15, 2006

APPLETON, Wis. — A priest who says he was forced to resign as pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Greenville in 2004 is suing the Diocese of Green Bay.

In the suit, the Rev. John Zickert, a Capuchin Franciscan priest, alleges the diocese and Bishop David Zubik among 13 other defendants spread false allegations and rumors of financial mismanagement and sexual impropriety that led to his termination on Aug. 9, 2004.

Zickert says the allegations have kept him from gaining employment elsewhere as a parish priest.

"The bottom line is his grievances have gone unanswered by the powers that be and by the individuals involved, and therefore he felt compelled to take this action and clear his name and to address other issues involved," said William Grogan, the attorney representing Zickert. "It is a very complex situation with multiple sets of laws and rules that come into play."

The diocese's policy is to refrain from commenting on matters in litigation, but a statement from the diocese said that Zickert is a religious order priest, not a diocesan priest, and is not authorized to act as a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Zubik and the Very Rev. Daniel Anholzer, major superior of the Capuchin Province of Detroit, asked the 62-year-old to resign in 2004, causing a rift among members of the congregation.

A number of parishioners raised concerns about Zickert's management style and sometimes-unorthodox approach to Catholic liturgy. At the time, Zubik said Zickert had personal issues to work out, though Zubik said he knew of no misconduct on Zickert's part.

Zickert seeks punitive damages, court costs and attorney's fees on seven actions - including interference with his employment because of false allegations and inability to be reinstated or obtain other employment as a parish priest, defamation of character and public dissemination of the results of a confidential psychological evaluation done at St. Michael Clinic in St. Louis.


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