PA - Victims blast archbishop over latest priest case

For immediate release: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013

Statement by Karen Polesir of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (267-992-9463, [email protected])

A Philly priest, Fr. John P. Paul, says he’s stepping down because of “stress” caused by reports that he molested two kids. And Philly Catholic officials now claim that that they’re investigating and that despite the two allegations, church officials “allowed (him) to remain at (a) parish with restrictions that prohibited him from having unsupervised contact with minors.”

The “take-away” here is twofold and troubling.

First, Philly Catholic officials – despite repeated pledges to be “open” – are continuing to pretend to do quiet, internal investigations into accused predator priests without warning parents.

Second, Philly Catholic officials – despite repeated pledges to “reform” – are still pretending that priests can “supervise” accused priests and put them on “restrictions” that keep them away from kids.

And over the past few decades, in hundreds and hundreds of cases, Catholic officials have claimed to be “supervising” or “monitoring” or “restricting” child molesting clerics when in fact, they have not been or have not been doing so effectively.

For example, in 2005, St. Louis’ archbishop said of a home for “retired” priests "We have a full-time staff there headed up by Sister Geraldine, and she is very strict - their comings and goings, everything is monitored. She is right on top of things."

But Sister Geraldine Vogel said “does not monitor the men if they go to a movie or for a walk. ‘I don't police them like that. I would trust them all. I would.’"

Just yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio reported that a Twin Cities priest admitted in 1995 that he sexually assaulting several kids. He was told he couldn’t act like a priest in public. Yet last year, he led a funeral service. And church officials did nothing about it.

Remember all those promises by Chaput and his brother bishops about “openness and transparency” in clergy sex cases? And remember when those decades-old pledges were enshrined in a formal and allegedly “tough” and “binding” national church abuse policy more than 11 years ago?

So how does Chaput’s actions conform with that commitment? Chaput refuses to

-- say parishioners or the public when the accusations against Fr. Paul were made, saying only that they arose “earlier this year.”

-- say why he never told parents and parishioners that his staff is allegedly investigating two child sex abuse reports.

-- say when the alleged “restrictions” were put on Fr. Paul, and

-- say who was allegedly making sure that an accused predator priest had “any unsupervised contact with minors.”

Increasingly, it seems that bishops are taking the easy way out and letting accused priests “resign” so bishops don’t have to make a determination as to whether or not allegations are credible.

Of course, bishops shouldn’t be making these determinations at all. Victims, witnesses and whistleblowers should report to secular officials, not church officials. And church officials should support – not oppose – ending the civil and criminal statutes of limitations so that these crimes can be sorted out in open court, overseen by unbiased judges, with the help of experienced and impartial police and prosecutors.

Finally, we’re troubled by the notion that an accused child molesting cleric can consider going “to study spirituality in Kentucky, take a retreat trip to Italy and work in Malawi, Africa.” We beg Chaput to forbid Fr. Paul from leaving the area. If the child sex abuse allegations against Fr. Paul prompt other, younger victims to step forward, victims whose cases fall within the statute of limitations, we strongly suspect that Fr. Paul would never return to Philly to face formal charges.

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected])


Priest resigns amid abuse investigation

WILLIAM BENDER, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, [email protected], 215-854-5255

POSTED: Monday, November 11, 2013, 12:00 AM

IN YESTERDAY’S church bulletin, the Rev. John Paul wrote that he has resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish “for physical and spiritual health” and because the parish needs “new leadership with new vision and enthusiasm.”

“Basically, I am tired and exhausted, and I need renewal for myself,” Paul wrote.

A statement from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was more illuminating, disclosing that Paul voluntarily resigned after 13 years at the helm of the Northeast Philly parish “amid the stress and anxiety relative to an investigation into alleged misconduct on his part.”

The Archdiocese is looking into allegations that Paul sexually abused minors more than 40 years ago as a seminarian. The information has been turned over to law enforcement — which declined to press charges — and Paul has had no unsupervised contact with minors since the allegations surfaced, said Archdiocese spokesman Kenneth Gavin.

A memo from Sister Mildred Chesnavage, Our Lady of Calvary School’s principal, and vice principal Jeanne Costello said the school has been a “safe and welcoming environment” under Paul’s leadership.

Paul said in his note that he would like to study spirituality in Kentucky, take a retreat trip to Italy and work in Malawi, Africa.



Archdiocesan statement

Father John Paul resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish earlier this week. He came to that decision of his own accord amid the stress and anxiety relative to an investigation into alleged misconduct on his part. Earlier this year, the Archdiocese received allegations that Father Paul had sexually abused minors over 40 years ago during his time as a seminarian. Father Paul has denied these allegations.

Consistent with Archdiocesan policy, all information concerning the allegations was immediately provided to law enforcement, which declined to press charges. The Archdiocese then began its own internal investigation in accordance with its policy. That process has not yet concluded.

The safety and well-being of our children and young people is of the utmost concern to the Archdiocese. Father Paul was allowed to remain at the parish during this time only after careful consideration of all available facts by the Archdiocesan Review Board, the Vicar for Clergy, the Director of Investigations, the Director of the Office for Child and Youth Protection and the Archbishop. Throughout this time, and as a matter of precaution, Father Paul’s ministry had been restricted in that he had no unsupervised contact with minors. Appropriate notification of his restrictions was made to pertinent parties and a monitoring and support plan was implemented and followed.

In the interest of transparency, the Archdiocese shared information surrounding Father Paul’s decision to resign at Masses at the parish this weekend. Counselors were made available to speak with anyone who wished to do so.

Archbishop Chaput has appointed Father John Babowitch as the new pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish. His assignment is effective December 2nd.


On November 6, I resigned as Pastor Of Our Lady of Calvary. For physical and spiritual health, I feel this is best for myself and the Parish.

Basically, I am tired and exhausted and I need renewal for myself. I have been Pastor for 13 years and I feel proud of our parish – the school, the renovations, the new ministries – much has been accomplished. Our Lady of Calvary Parish is in need of new leadership…with new vision and enthusiasm.

I thank my fellow priests, our secretaries and maintenance staff, our school administrators and teachers for their loyalty and support. Please pray for me as I will pray for you.

I have no immediate plans except for some rest and prayer.

If all works out, with diocesan approval, I will take a sabbatical for prayer, study and service as allowed. If possible, I would like to study spirituality at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY (which houses the library of Thomas Merton and is near Getsamane Abbey), make a retreat in Assisi,Italy and work with Fr. Mike in Malawi, Africa.

Sincerely yours in Christ, Rev. John Paul

Showing 2 comments

  • @ tweeted this page. 2013-11-12 09:49:25 -0600
  • Mike Skiendzielewski
    commented 2013-11-11 17:41:42 -0600
    A very important element of yesterday’s announcement at Our Lady of Calvary is the fact that it was signed by two WOMEN, administrators of Our Lady of Calvary School. If the reporting, processing, investigation, and action re the allegation of sexual abuse was taken by the religious leadership of the Archdiocese (male), then why would the difficult or unpleasant nature of divulging such information to the parishioners, families and children fall onto the shoulders of two women professionals who manage and direct the parish school? Where’s the Archdiocesan leadership?

    Ah, yes, they were busy this weekend, making arrangements to attend the annual meeting of the USCCB where a new president will be chosen. If Philadelphia (Chaput), Minneapolis-St.Paul (Nienstedt), Newark (Myers), etc. are any indication of the “talent pool”, then it will indeed be a very long process. But for all of us who cherish our Catholic faith, yesterday’s revelations is more of the same duplicitous, hypocritical and deceitful conduct and decision-making by our “leaders”, which conduct continues to place our children and young adults at grave risk for sexual abuse and predation.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Philadelphia, PA

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