Archdiocese of Philadelphia Priest Abruptly Removed; SNAP has concerns
(For Immediate Release November 21, 2022)
Fr. Lawrence Kozak, a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was removed from his position as pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, last week. Parishioners were notified of this development this past weekend in a bulletin announcement written by Deacon Timothy Murphy, who works for the church.
Providing pertinent information about the reasons behind the removal, Bishop John McIntyre, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, also spoke to parishioners during the weekend Sunday services. Bishop McIntyre stated that Fr. Kozak was placed on administrative leave by Archbishop Nelson Pérez, and that this action was taken due to serious concerns about the priest's suitability for ministry because of his mismanagement of parish finances. Bishop McIntyre told parishioners that thousands of charges by Fr. Kozak on the church's credit card were for online gaming, online gambling, video streaming services, and other personal expenses. The priest was the only authorized user of this card. These purchases were a violation of Archdiocesan financial procedures and have been reported to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office for investigation.
This situation reminds SNAP of a similar case from a neighboring parish. In September of 2021, Msgr. Joseph McLoone pleaded guilty to improperly taking $30,892.50 from his church’s All Souls’ Day contributions, priestly stipends, and a secret parish account to which only he had access. Part of the money he stole was used to send money to adult men with whom he was involved in "consensual relationships," albeit sexual.
We believe that the unsuspecting parishioners of St. Thomas More deserve to know exactly how much money was stolen from them, exactly where those monies went, and exactly what their priest was doing while he worked at their church. We hope that the faithful will pressure the Archdiocese to provide them with a complete and transparent report at the conclusion of both inquiries, the one by law enforcement and the one by the Church. Furthermore, we believe that Catholic officials should provide more information on what video streaming services and personal expenses were involved. As in the case of Msgr. McLoone, those unauthorized expenses may indicate a personnel problem that goes beyond the misappropriation of parish funds.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, Philadelphia (267-261-0578, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President (814-341-8386, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is www.snapnetwork.org)