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JOHN D'ARCY: Former bishop’s death impacts Col. City

February 4, 2013

FORT WAYNE (AP) — The news of Bishop Emeritus John D’Arcy’s death had a trickle-down effect which was felt by Columbia City parishioners.

“It was a hard blow,” said Mary Ann Schaefer, a member of St. Paul of the Cross, Columbia City.

“When we heard of his cancer, it was sad. He was still as active as he could be,” Schaefer said.

D’Arcy, who oversaw the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for 24 years during a time of church closings, a national sex-abuse scandal and some run-ins with University of Notre Dame leaders, has died. He was 80 years old.

Diocese spokesman Sean McBride says D’Arcy died Sunday of cancer at his home in Fort Wayne. D’Arcy, who was treated for prostate cancer in 2011, announced last month he was battling a rare form of cancer that had been diagnosed in his lungs and brain. He said the disease was discovered when he went to a Boston-area hospital after feeling ill while visiting relatives.

“We will look back with fond memories,” Schaefer said. “He confirmed my daughter so he was very special to my family.”

Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who succeeded D’Arcy, thanked those who prayed for D’Arcy while he was ill and asked them to pray again for him, his family and his loved ones.

D’Arcy retired in 2010 as bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese that covers 14 counties in northern Indiana with more than 150,000 members.

“As part of St. Paul’s, we will miss his leadership,” said Schaefer. “But he was ready and he was at peace. That makes it somewhat easier for us. He’s in a better place and now he won’t be suffering.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

D’Arcy received national attention when he was one of the few church officials commended in a scathing 2003 report issued by the Massachusetts attorney general about the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests in the Boston Archdiocese. The report blamed then-Cardinal Bernard Law, his predecessors as archbishop and Law’s assistants for sheltering abusive priests and other church workers who molested as many as 1,000 children between 1940 and 2000.

But D’Arcy, a former auxiliary bishop in Boston, was noted for his strong support of screening potential priests, as well as his warnings to his superiors about predatory priests.

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