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Fr. Mark Hession at Ted Kennedy's funeral MassCJ Gunther-Pool / Getty Images

BARNSTABLE, Massachusetts, December 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic priest who gave the homily at pro-abortion Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral has been indicted for rape and indecent assault on a child.

Father Mark R. Hession, 62, a priest of the Fall River Diocese and the former pastor of Our Lady of Victory in Centerville, MA, where Kennedy’s Cape Cod funeral was held, was the subject of a “secret” grand jury indictment in Barnstable last Friday, Hyannis News reported. The full charges were two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14, and one count of witness intimidation.

A statement from the Fall River Diocese underscored that Hession has been “suspended from actively priestly ministry since 2019” and thus has not been able “to present himself as a priest in public settings.”

According to NBC Boston Channel 10, Hession was put on leave after complaints by some adult parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Seekonk that he had sent them “inappropriate communications.” Hession left the parish in 2018 after it was revealed that he had used funds from its budget to fund personal expenses.   

The Fall River diocese wrote that it had learned of the investigation into Hession after his March 2019 suspension began.

“Subsequently, the Diocese of Fall River learned of the investigation by the Barnstable County District Attorney’s Office. The Diocese has been cooperating with this investigation from the outset, and will continue to do so,” its statement reads.

“The Diocese of Fall River is committed to ensuring the safety of all children and adults.”

In 2009, the Boston Globe dubbed Hession the Kennedys’ “family priest on Cape Cod.” During his homily at Senator Kennedy’s funeral, Hession emphasized that he had been the deceased’s pastor.

“I know Ted and Vicki and their family as their parish priest. My sources of reflection are the scriptures and the pastoral experience of ministering to Ted and his family,” he said.

“My vision, like yours, can't encompass the totality of his life. My memories seen through the lens of a Catholic parish priest are about how one person, one man, a husband, a father, a public figure, a Catholic, and a citizen, tried to meet the tests of the kingdom of Matthew's gospel.”

The late Edward Kennedy, despite his self-identification as a Catholic, was a strong advocate of abortion and voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Nevertheless, Fr. Hession preached that he and the congregation were “confident” that Kennedy had entered heaven.

The totality of Hession’s hagiographic homily can be read here.

According to the Boston Globe, Hession told the Cape Cod Times in 2002 that he didn’t think priests accused of abuse should be named publicly if criminal charges were not laid.

“The law allows for a certain exercise of discretion to make settlements with confidentiality,” he told the newspaper.

“I don’t think it’s the best policy to publish the names if there is no indictment. It just enlarges the circle of the crisis.”

According to the Diocese of Fall River, Hession was ordained in 1984 and became a canon lawyer in 1986. He served as a liaison for his diocese’s annual Red Mass for the legal profession for over 20 years. Hession also served as Director of the Office of Ongoing Formation/Education of Priests for at least 25 years and as a chaplain to the Order of Malta, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Board of Directors for the fundraising Catholic Foundation. He was also on the Diocesan Priests’ Personnel Board.