Catholic church response to deacon’s guilty plea

December 20th, 2012 at 11:53 am by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

As we reported this week, Robert Nouwen, a deacon assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Mobile, pleaded guilty in Mobile Federal Court to child pornography charges.  Court documents claim that on 7 occasions between January 17, 2011 and April 26, 2011, he ordered child pornography from a company based in Toronto.  Nouwen now faces up to 10 years in prison and must register as a sex offender.

To learn more about the response of the Archdiocese of Mobile to the admission, I turned to Rev. James Cink, the pastor of St. Dominic Church and the Director of Child Protection for the Archdiocese.  Here are my questions and his responses:

  • Did he have contact with children at St. Vincent’s (either the school or the parish)?
  • Bob Nouwen served at Mass but had no involvement with children or the school.


  •  Did his interest in child sexual matters extend beyond ordering videos from Canada?
  • The investigation was conducted by federal authorities, through the US Postal Service and prosecuted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama Southern Division. I believe you received their press release yesterday. I have no other information than what was released by that office.


  • Had there been any complaints about him, prior to the videos?
  • There have been no complaints regarding Bob Nouwen.


  • When did the parish and/or Archdiocese learn of his involvement with child pornography? What action was taken then? Police tell me they knew nothing about the case.
  • We learned of Nouwen’s involvement once the US Postal service obtained a search warrant. On the day of the execution of the warrant [according to court documents, the search warrant was executed on September 19, 2012]  Nouwen was placed on Administrative leave, which means that he was prohibited from all ministry. Since the Federal Authorities were conducting the investigation, I do not believe that it was my responsibility to notify other law enforcement offices of a federal investigation, least my actions be seen as interference in an official investigation. The local District Attorney was notified before we approached the affected parish community.


  • Have the parents at St. Vincent been notified about the reason for his retirement/resignation?
  • Yes on Monday December 17 a meeting of parishioners and parents of children within our school was held at the parish. Notification of that meeting was announced at all the weekend Masses on December 15 & 16.


  • How did he manage to make it through the child protection training? Is the process being re-examined now?
  • Before Nouwen pleaded guilty to the possession of Child Pornography, he had no criminal record. Nouwen was cleared by both FBI and ABI background checks.



Tags: , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Catholic church response to deacon’s guilty plea”

  1. On Wednesday I spent some time in my son’s first grade classroom as they celebrated the holidays with a party. I am always amazed and mesmerized by the flurry of activity and energy that twenty-one first graders can generate. I almost always see teachers in a new and appreciative light. As an introvert, I’m not sure I would last a day with all that bubbly curiosity and invigorating activity.

    As I gazed around the room, I doubt that many if any of the children in the class were aware of much beyond the upcoming Christmas holiday. They were happy, even giddy as they decorated ginger bread houses and indulged in every kind of sweet treat imaginable. The children have an infectious joy that is palpable and precious.

    I am grateful that the children have very little awareness of the tragedy in Connecticut. I am grateful that they have little to no awareness of the recent conviction of Deacon Nouwen at the St. Vincent’s Parish. I am most grateful that Archbishop Rodi and Fr. Jim Cink have assured us in a forthright manner that our children were in no way in danger, at any time, and that the appropriate steps were taken to remove Deacon Nouwen from ministry. I think every parent who had to endure this news this week felt it to be another injury to our already raw and wounded spirits.

    As I watched my son merrily slathering frosting on his gingerbread house, I thought about how our world often seems to be as fragile as a house of cards. Yet, as I glanced around the room at many dedicated parents and grandparents who were there to ensure that the holiday party was a success, suddenly the house of cards seemed a little more stable.

    When we see bad things splashed across the news, our house of cards seems to tremble in the wind. We easily forget all the good things that are around us daily: the successes and the many glimpses of God’s Kingdom. I see these glimpses of God’s Kingdom every time I am at St. Vincent’s School.

    As a non-Catholic parent, in fact, a Lutheran woman pastor, I have been embraced, welcomed, and adopted into the tight knit family community that is St. Vincent’s. The pastor of the parish, Fr. Havens, does not look down when he sees me, but embraces me. The school principal, Mary McLendon, is one of the most amazing, open-minded and compassionate women I know. I look around and see people of varying backgrounds, vocations, and family makeup. I see good people, hard working people, people who embody what it means to be Christ’s hands and feet in this world. I see people who love their children and truly understand the great gift of parenting. And, I see teachers who are passionately devoted to their job, their vocation, who bring love, creativity, and wisdom into the classrooms every day.

    While the news of Deacon Nouwen is disappointing and even shocking, his brokenness is not a reflection of St. Vincent’s Parish and certainly not the School. Perhaps the really shocking news is that we are all broken in some way. We find various ways to try and fill the God-shaped hole within us whether by eating, drinking, shopping, exercising, etc. And, we lose our way, we miss the mark daily. As St. Augustine reminded us so long ago, our hearts will be restless until they rest in God.

    I think as we march towards Christmas, if the incarnation shows us anything, wakes us up to anything, it is that God, Emmanuel, is already among us: among the poor, the sick, the junkies, the prostitutes, the hypocrites, the forgotten, in places of power, in places of oppression, in poverty, in wealth, wherever God’s name is known, where it is unknown, with our friends, our enemies, in our convictions, in our doubts, in life and death, at the table, and in every classroom across the world.

    Thank you St. Vincent’s School for being the bold witness you are. Thank you parents, teachers, and staff. I am proud and grateful of your fervent dedication and perseverance. May we all remember the wisdom of John 1:5– The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

  2. Gerald Roff says:

    If I had to start all over with no money this is what I would do… You can be earning $150 – $300 daily with this system and it doesn’t cost anything to begin. You gotta see this! Click Here!

  3. Wow! It is also good piece of writing on the topic of JavaScript, I am truly eager of learning JavaScript. thanks admin

Leave a Reply