SNAP echoes advocacy group concerns about how a Philadelphia priest ended up in Tennessee, where he was accused of sexual assault

Catholics4Change, an advocacy group that serves as a forum for those with concerns regarding Church accountability, issued a statement yesterday about a priest who was ordained by and who worked in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but who was quietly allowed to move to the Diocese of Nashville where he was accused of sexual assault. We echo Catholics4Change's concerns about what the cleric was doing in another state, and why the Tennessee allegations were not shared with parishioners in the Archdiocese.

Fr Kevin McGoldrick was ordained for the Archdiocese in 2003, but his known assignment history there is spotty. An article in Catholic Philly indicated that the clergyman was assigned as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in South Philadelphia in 2008. Catholics4Change reported he was also associated with the Theology of the Body Institute in Downingtown. We wonder exactly where Fr. McGoldrick was during the 10 years between his ordination and 2013, when he was transferred to Nashville?  Catholics4Change also observed that Fr. McGoldrick was approved by Archbishop Chaput for an assignment in Nashville when there was a shortage of priests in the Archdiocese and that there was no announcement of the Tennessee allegations against Fr. McGoldrick in Philadelphia. To us, these are all red flags suggesting that Fr. McGoldrick was a problem before he even arrived in Nashville. 

In 2013 Fr. McGoldrick left Philadelphia for a job as a chaplain at Aquinas College in Tennessee, which is part of the Diocese of Nashville. It is reported that he was also responsible for the chaplaincy at an elementary school and an all-girls secondary school. According to the Catholic Herald, a female victim reported to the Diocese in March of 2019 that the priest sexually assaulted her in 2017. However, Nashville never opened an investigation into the accusation.  The survivor eventually filed a police report in 2020 and also filed a lawsuit against the Diocese, which was settled in May 2020 for $65,000.

The victim, concerned that Fr. McGoldrick may have been grooming other young women, also reported her assault to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Fr. McGoldrick's "home" diocese, in July 2019. The Archdiocese found the allegation "credible" in early January 2020, and suspended Fr. McGoldrick's priestly faculties. The cleric then asked Pope Francis for “voluntary laicization,” which would allow him to leave the priesthood on his own terms rather than be dismissed as a result of a Church trial.

If the Archdiocese of Philadelphia found the claim to be "credible," we believe that Fr. McGoldrick should be on the list of accused priests put out by the Archdiocese and by Nashville.  This is in keeping with the work of the St. Mary MacKillop Coalition, which has targeted loopholes within internal Catholic policies that minimize abuse claims from adults sexually assaulted by clerics. Moreover, in December, Vatican law will reflect that the sexual abuse of adults by clergy is a crime in the Church.

We, along with Catholics4Change, urge the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to live up to its promise of openness and transparency by supplying more information about Fr. McGoldrick's history in the Archdiocese, and by alerting parishioners and the public about the Nashville allegations. But more importantly, we encourage anyone who experienced, witnessed, or suspected clergy sexual abuse in either the Archdiocese of Philadelphia or the Diocese of Nashville to make an immediate report to law enforcement. 

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Susan Vance, SNAP Leader Tennessee, (865-748-3518, [email protected], David Brown, SNAP Leader Tennessee, (901-569-4500, [email protected]

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

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