Diocese of Providence priest placed back on the job; SNAP has concerns
(For Immediate Release August 1, 2022)
Eric Silva, a priest in the Diocese of Providence, was removed from two Rhode Island Catholic churches in February 2022 for inappropriate behavior. Parents alleged that Silva was asking inappropriate questions to children about their sexual orientation and sexual activity. Silva was appointed to St. Luke's Church in Barrington earlier this year and was a visiting priest in Cranston. Silva made the remarks to the pupils while visiting Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School in Cranston. However, there were also complaints at St. Luke's.
Silva is currently serving Mass at its Narragansett St. Veronica's Chapel. Silva is solely mentioned as "Father Eric" on church schedules, although all other priests at St. Thomas More are named by their surnames. Silva has been holding mass in Narragansett for the past few weeks. According to a July 14 article in the Diocese's publication, "Reverend Eric Silva, to Assistant Pastor, St. Thomas More Parish, Narragansett, beginning August 15, 2022."
We are fully aware that there was no allegation of sexual abuse against Fr. Silva, we do know that these probing words by a cleric, to any child or adult, reek of grooming patterns. It is no surprise to us that Bishop Tobin quietly placed ‘Fr. Eric’ back on the job. Tobin has been scrutinized for his involvement in handling the transfer of suspect priests when he worked as Vicar General and General Secretary for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Tobin said that he was aware of allegations of sexual abuse during his time in Pennsylvania but could not act on them.
As should every parishioner and member of the Rhode Island community, we are concerned that Bishop Tobin has not revealed any information on Silva's "inappropriate behavior."
Countless times in the past, Catholic officials have placed suspended priests back into parishes, only later having to remove them again when additional accusations are reported. We are concerned that this history could repeat itself in the Diocese of Providence.
We beg anyone who may have suffered, seen, or suspected child sex crimes in Rhode Island to summon the strength to speak up. Today's children are safer when adults are courageous enough to call and report this to law enforcement.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)