updated 11/30/2007 10:22:34 PM ET 2007-12-01T03:22:34

The Vatican removed from the priesthood two men who faced credible complaints of sexual abuse of children, the Cleveland Catholic Diocese said.

Gary Berthiaume, who was suspended from active ministry in 2002, and J. Brendan McNulty, who was suspended in 2003, had asked to be removed from the clerical state, the diocese said Friday.

Berthiaume transferred to Cleveland after serving six months in a Michigan jail for molesting two boys in the 1970s, diocese spokesman Bob Polomsky said. More allegations surfaced when he worked in Cleveland.

McNulty was suspended while serving as pastor of Saints Philip and James Church in Cleveland. The allegations involved sexual abuse of boys from a large churchgoing family in the 1970s.

"We are deeply sorry of the pain suffered by survivors of abuse due to action of some members of the clergy, as nothing is more important than protecting children," the diocese said in announcing the Vatican move.

No phone listing could be found for Berthiaume or McNulty and they could not be reached for comment. Polomsky said he did not have contact information on Berthiaume, who no longer lives in Ohio, or McNulty, who still lives in the Cleveland area.

The diocese has about 780,000 Catholics in eight northeast Ohio counties. It has 411 diocesan priests, including 85 who are retired and 35 assigned elsewhere, including missionary and military chaplain work.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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