The Diocese of Cleveland announced the permanent laicization of disgraced Robert McWilliams, serving a life sentence in prison for the sexual exploitation of children.

“Pope Francis has decreed that Robert McWilliams has been dismissed from the clerical state for the crimes of the sexual abuse of a minor, for which McWilliams was sentenced on November 9, 2021, to life in prison. The decree also notes the canonical offense of the acquisition and retention of pornographic images of minors. This dismissal is a penalty imposed directly by the pope. There is no possible appeal. Dismissal (or definitive and complete removal) from the clerical state means that McWilliams is permanently no longer able to function anywhere as a priest.”

The Diocese of Cleveland also said they “continue, as a family of faith, to offer prayers and support for his victims and for all those impacted by his reprehensible actions.”

“We ask our loving Father to heal any and all wounds they have suffered. The Diocese of Cleveland remains committed to creating a safe environment for children and fostering healing for those who have experienced abuse.”

McWilliams pleaded guilty to “two counts of sex trafficking of youths younger than 18, three counts of sexual exploitation of children and three counts involving child pornography” in July.

US District Judge Sara Lioi sentenced him to life in prison on November 9th. She said the strict sentence was because the public needed to be protected.

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