Vatican: US prelate accused of abuse not at high court

Vatican: US prelate accused of abuse not at high court

Vatican: US prelate accused of abuse not at high court

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, speaks during a Jan. 15 Vatican news conference. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

The Vatican says a Holy See lawyer who appeared on a list of American priests credibly accused of sexual abuse isn't currently at the Catholic Church's supreme court, where he holds a top position.

ROME — The Vatican says a Holy See lawyer who appeared on a list of American priests credibly accused of sexual abuse isn’t currently at the Catholic Church’s supreme court, where he holds a top position.

Monsignor Joseph Punderson was listed by the diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, last week as having been removed from ministry. The diocese identified Punderson as a one-time diocesan vice chancellor whose final assignment was at the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican court that hears appeals of marriage annulments, among other issues.

Asked Monday about Punderson’s status, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said: “He is not at the Signatura tribunal in this moment.” He did not elaborate.

The Vatican’s yearbook lists Punderson as the “defender of the bond,” the official who seeks to uphold a marriage’s validity in annulment cases.

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