Parish Parents Not Considered ‘Pertinent Parties’ in Pastor’s Child Abuse Allegations


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.

A NOTE FROM FR. JOHN PAUL –

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

 From the School Web site:

1- This weekend Father Dunleavy, Regional Dean, will inform the parish that Father John Paul has resigned as Pastor and no longer resides at OLC.

2- Earlier this year, the Archdiocese was notified of allegations of sexual abuse of minors against Father Paul dating back 45 years.

3- Consistent with its policies concerning such allegations, the Archdiocese immediately provided this information to law enforcement authorities.

4- After investigating the matter, law enforcement authorities DECLINED TO PRESS CHARGES AGAINST FATHER PAUL.

5- These allegations involved no member of OLC either 45 years ago or since.

6- As a result of the extreme emotional duress experienced by Father Paul while the allegations were being investigated, and out of heartfelt concern for the families of OLC, Father Paul voluntarily resigned as Pastor so that the best interest of the parish could be served.

7- DURING THE THIRTEEN YEARS IN WHICH FATHER PAUL WAS PASTOR, OLC WAS, AND CONTINUES TO BE A SAFE AND WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT.

8- The Archdiocese has appointed Father John Babowitch as our new Pastor and he will be arriving on December 2nd. 

9- As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at any time.

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38 Responses to “Parish Parents Not Considered ‘Pertinent Parties’ in Pastor’s Child Abuse Allegations”

  1. Fr Paul’s resignation in the midst of the Archdiocesan investigation has opened up many questions to the process of investigations and allowing accused priests to reside in parishes while investigations are active. Also the question of “transparency” while keeping parents in the dark.
    Those who follow this site know that from a few of my own experiences with the Archdiocese involving child safety..everything from lack of protocol in the CYO programs to encountering a patient from a clergy psychiatric facility on a high school campus..I have been beating the drum for years about the lack of consistency, protocol, policy, oversight,transparency, parent’s right, children’s rights. Regardless of Fr Paul’s guilt or innocence, this situation is an example of it all in many ways.

  2. “The Archdiocese says. earlier this year, they were notified of allegations of sexual abuse of minors against Father Paul”
    —This is November, what took Chaput so long to make this public?

    It takes a lot of courage to speak up about being sexually abused. This is not an easy thing to do, but let’s hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Fr. John Paul, will come forward and contact police, not the church officials. They are not the proper officials to be investigating child sex crimes.
    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day
    Silence is not an options anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    “SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  3. As a longtime advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, I want to indicate that when law enforcement authorities fail to press charges, this most often has to do with the statute of limitations, not the truth of the matter under question.

    It may be legally impossible to bring criminal charges after 45 years, though I have worked with survivors who kept their secrets over 50 years. The shame was that intense. Actually only 2% of accused abusers in the US have ever been prosecuted because those secrets were kept so long.

    In addition, the statutes in effect at the time of the alleged abuse have probably been tightened or amended in the interim. But the earlier statute pertains, even if an offense would be actionable today.

    I have no opinion on Fr. John Paul’s record, but no inferences should be drawn just because police did not press charges. Based on my personal experience, the number of credibly accused priests who admit to charges against them is infinitesimal.

    Six priests in our parish where my children grew up were eventually identified as abusers and removed from ministry if alive. I could hardly breathe when one was named because of his close association with my children. A neighbor admitted privately that her son finally told her of abuse, years after the perpetrator had been identified. Another priest who was credibly named had left as pastor 45 years ago.

    Anything is possible as an internal church investigation goes forward. I pray too that justice is served, but am concerned that survivors in general do not become targets of derision or afraid to report abuse, if a highly esteemed priest is accused.

  4. Without deflecting from the damge done by this priest [or others], in all probability he was got at himself as an alter boy, [a precurser to his seminarian days, a fact for many of them at the end of the day], and relieved when it has all come out in the open, not with the help of his superiors but by the Grace of God, setting him free, bringing justice to his victims.

    • The latest article says there are 2 allegations. from when this priest was a seminarian. I want to caution all against speculation of what we don’t know and try to focus on what we do. An accused priest was left in a parish while being investigated, parents were not notified. This is a glimpse into a system that still is not telling parents what they have a right to know.

      • Kathy, I too am curious about the allegations. If this is the same man from Bishop McDevitt high school, I witnessed his inappropriate behavior many times. As did many of my friends and family. Illegal? Maybe not, but very inappropriate priest behavior with the young teenage girls. This is my opinion and I want to follow the rules of this site, but I strongly feel there is more to this story. When I knew him he was well past his seminary days. I often wondered what happened to him and where he ended up and now we know. I can now cross out his picture in my yearbook along with Fr. DePaoli. And he’s tied? I am truly weary of all of this. I believe the victims.

        • catholicmom I would encourage anyone who saw anything even if was years ago, even is it was “inappropriate” and not illegal..to call the Delegate of Investigations at the Archdiocese 1-800-930-9010.
          When these cases about removal/reinstatement are being decided it is important that anyone with any info reports it. I believe in the case of one priest who has now been permanently restricted,there was no victim that reported but rather the many,many clergy, parents, staff etc,,that reported odd behavior over the years .

        • It is the same person and I sent an email to the Archdiocese last night. There were multiple incidents of inappropriate behavior that I witnessed. Right now – it is ALL over Facebook conversations. I would echo Kathy’s advice and send a report ASAP. I was so mad with his comments about he was exhausted and tired – like he was the victim!

          • Owlfan thank you and please tell all those discussing this on Facebook to also contact the Archdiocese. So many times people think that because one or two people report something then that is enough and that is not the case sometimes. Follow owlfan’s lead and report anything that you know.

          • Also here is the email to Leslie Davila ldavila@adphila.org if people would rather email. Leslie is the Director of Office of Child and Youth Protection . Owlfan I am not sure who you emailed at the Archdiocese but would suggest that you forward a copy of that email to Leslie.

  5. Again, what did the rcc know and when did it know it, the probable reason for lack of prosecution is the SOL, from the note written by paul there is no mention of the Victim(s) it is just about him and how tired he is and what he would like to do, well the Victims have the same dreams and desires that have been snuffed ! I am still waiting for a response from the archdiocese regarding Sean the 26 yr Old Victim who passed away. As always it is never about the Victims only the enablers and abusers who write these pathetic excuses !

    • When they’ve had the confidence [due to Obedience] of the certitude of doing Gods will, is it any wonder they end up with personality disorders which in turn can go in their favour as a mental condition, in some cases a get out of jail ticket, especially when dealt with inhouse.
      The bishops have their tails well and truly covered.

  6. I don’t believe they actually think the parents need to know this information. Furthermore, the only thing they want from parents is their money and time for their numerous fund raising events. The minute you ask questions regarding staff, pastors/clergy, teachers/administration, you become the problem. I honestly believe none of the Catholic schools or church’s can be trusted. They have a cult like mentality regarding “their own” which unfortunately does not include the parents….or more importantly the children.

    • Am I correct that the pastor of each parish acts as the Director of its school? For the Archdiocese to allow this man to stay on at his position for 10 months after allegations of sex abuse of minors were made against him??! This act has got to be some sort of criminal misconduct (?)

      These OLC parents were blatantly deceived about the safety of the school environment. The cunningly worded statements are just insulting. I can’t imagine the anger in that parish. I hope it’s a catalyst for change.

      As for me, I’d have been waiting by the school’s main entrance this morning at the crack of dawn to withdraw my kids from such a place. Children are not in good hands there.

      • Crystal I hear what you are saying but this is not a problem specific to OLC. The Charter for Protection of Children states that a priest must be removed after a substantiated allegation of abuse but during an investigative process there should be efforts on preserving the reputation of the accused priest. So this could have happened at any parish/school in the Archdiocese or anywhere for that matter.
        Fr Paul’s resignation before the Review Board decided the case seems to have brought the investigation to light which leads me to question how many priests have been investigated and possibly cleared by Review Boards and parishioners still have no idea that there were allegations or an investigation. If Fr Paul is removed by the Review Board that will be made public, if he is not removed no one would have even known he was being investigated. Now that the investigation is known, look at the commenters on this site sharing their knowledge of troubling behavior..which is why every investigation should be announced.
        The problem is systemic, not isolated to various parishes.

  7. “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.”

    And it never occurred again since his seminary days! I find this fascinating; he’s an innocent man, or he was cured. A cure is very rare. I’d love to know about his history. Does anyone on this blog known the man?

    • Dr. Who – he taught at my high school.(well beyond his seminary years). Most girls knew to stay away from him. I can’t say too much as I want to follow the rules of this site. I will say in my opinion the red flags were there all along. I witnessed inappropriate behavior of his (too much touchy-feely behavior, arms around a girl, etc.) but as a naïve teenager probably did not think it was criminal. I know some people had incidents with him which probably were never reported – attempts to kiss them, etc. They should also be questioning people in Ocean City, NJ where he spent much of his time in the summer, often in the company of young teenage girls. I wonder who will pay for his fabulous retreat in Assisi and Africa?

      • Dr. Who just need to look at the Proud Bishop McDevitt Alumni page on facebook – many people recounting their memories of Fr. Paul. The main theme is “what took so long?”.

        • catholicmom,the comments on that FB page remind of the TV show “Cold Case” all those long ago experiences being relived as adults . I hope they report their experiences to the police if abuse occurred. Even just the ‘odd” stuff needs to be reported at least to the Archdiocese as the Review Board has not finalized the case. I hope that anyone in the Archdiocese who played a part in allowing Fr Paul to stay at the parish takes a moment to look at the Proud Bishop McDevitt Alumni facebook page .

          • Kathy, I emailed Leslie Davila and specifically asked her to look at the page and also told Al Toczydlowski. He emailed me after I emailed Leslie. He is the director of investigations for the Arch of Phila and his email is atoczydlowski@archphila.org. I also suggested they send letters to the alumni for the years Fr. Paul was there. Didn’t they do that for alum from St. Joe’s Prep? I seem to remember that happened earlier this year. I think they would be overwhelmed with responses. He has a long history of bad behavior spanning back to this seminary days. You have to wonder why he wanted to be a priest at all? And I find it hard to believe they never had one complaint about him since his seminary days. Do you know where he has been in between teaching at McDevitt and becoming pastor at Calvary? Do you really think he will be able to just walk away, free to go to Kentucky and Italy? I wish someone at the Inquirer would pick up this story, people need to hear about it.

          • Catholicmom and Kathy – someone just posted all of the contact info for the Archdiocese on the McDevitt Alumni FB page. Here’s hoping that the Archdiocese is bombarded with information. He went to Archbishop Wood after McDevitt – I would be interested if there is any chatter up there.
            Meanwhile, there is an article on CatholicPhilly.com with a picture – poor guy is stressed! Disgusting – http://catholicphilly.com/2013/11/local-news/local-catholic-news/ne-philadelphia-pastor-resigns-due-to-stress-from-allegations/

          • catholicmom I am glad to hear that you received a reply. I sent a few emails yesterday to various people at the Archdiocese and have not heard back..I am hoping they are busy communicating with McDevitt alum at this point.

            I have to say that I have not witnessed this level of “activity” in reference to an accused priest in the 3 years that I have been involved in this issue. When I was reading through the McDevitt alum comments my first thought was that it would be so great for the two people who reported the original allegations to see those comments.

            The comment left by the gentleman who took a stand back in “1979′ as a 17 year old..holding his ground in the face of being disciplined..telling the priest exactly what he thought of him..wow..anyone from that generation who attended Catholic schools knows that what he did was no small feat.

            Also the compassion and anger in so many comments acknowledging that some classmates may not have come out unscathed..really just such a testament to the goodness in people..they knew what it was like back then under those conditions and any person harmed would feel embraced by those alumni.

            Unless there is abuse reported that falls within the statutes , the answer to your question is that he would be free to go wherever he wants.

            The email to the Inquirer reporter who wrote the initial story of the resignation is sabdur-ahman@phillynews.com…I agree there is a story in all this.

          • Sorry the correct email is sabdur-rahman@phillynews.com

          • Kathy I tried posting this before but it didn’t go through. Here is a comment made on an article on abc online:
            ********************
            “For all of you saying this happened 40+ years ago and things were different, consider this; he taught at Kennedy-Kenrick (in Norristown), in the late 90s’ and we called him Father Touchy Feely. He was gross, inappropriate, and always offering his office and couch to any student who he felt needed some ‘special’ time. I know several students, myself included, who complained several times about his behavior, and we were ALL told he was just being nice and that we were imagining things or just being dramatic teenagers. A 50 year old man that braids 14 and 15 year old girls’ hair and always tries to help with uniform issues? Wants them to visit and nap on his couch? Yeah, that’s totally normal.”
            ************************
            So from the comment it appears Fr. Paul was at Kennedy-Kendrick and I also hear Archbishop Wood. It also appears people in the late 90s complained about him. Would any of those complaints from late 90s be within the sol? I think a better newspaper article needs to be written with a time line of where he has been through the years as well as contact info for notifying authorities.

      • catholicmom,

        Thanks for the info.

        “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” (Rev. John Paul).

        Sure, why not Rev? The People of God payed for Cardinal Law’s permanent vacation in Rome. You deserve a vacation as well, right? Happy trails Rev., but it won’t be on my dime!

    • drwho13,
      Have you ever hear of Pope John the 23rd the Vatican 2 Pope being in or friendly with the Masons organization? I just was wondering what you thought about that. I know off topic. Just been reading a lot of material reccenlty about the church I have a lot of questions about a lot of things. My teachers in catholic school told me it was good to ask questions……..I am searching for the truth in many matters right now…..

  8. “As a result of the extreme emotional duress experienced by Father Paul while the allegations were being investigated, and out of heartfelt concern for the families of OLC, Father Paul voluntarily resigned as Pastor so that the best interest of the parish could be served,” said the memo, signed by Sister Mildred Chesnavage and Jeanne Costello, school administrators.

    Okay, while we’re (the Big guys) packing our bags enroute to the USCCB soiree in Baltimore this week, let’s dump this debacle on two WOMEN at the parish. This is Catholic Leadership here in Philadelphia for sure. That is why USCCB Leadership is known far and wide as an oxymoron.

    Not a single male clergy could have signed this memo? Oh, so busy down there at 222 N. 17th St. since we’re campaigning for the USCCB presidency. How else do you think we’re ever going to get that “red chapeau”?

    Greek Tragedy or Black Comedy? You make the call. Pathetic and dishonorable most definitely.

    • How about the Principal’s and Assistant Principal’s responsibility in this. These two professional educators should be even angrier than the parents about this news…..but from the tone of their memo, they’re not!…They sound like they’re taking it in good stride….as if every grade school naturally has a director/pastor with allegations of child sex abuse hanging over his head.

      These AD hierarchy clerics certainly mange to get a lot of lay people — very often women, to keep their secrets and do their bidding. Is being a blind, deaf and dumb door mat a job requirement for employment with the AD? Sorry, but I’m losing my patience with AD employees.

      • Crystal when the Lynn trial started there was a letter drafted by the Archdiocese and sent to each parish. The pastors/principals then signed their names to the letter and distributed it to the parents. It was if they wrote the letter..social media and various parishioners sharing the letter showed otherwise.

        It was also interesting to find out that while some parishes did as told..others threw those letters in the trash and never distributed it to the parents and the pastors/principals never signed their name to it.

        After the 2011 GJ report many administrators and pastors had to assure parents that contrary to the GJ report there were no priests in ministry who had allegations..then a few weeks later 27 men suspended. Expected to tow the line and then the reversal and immediate suspension of the priests. I would not be able to do this..no matter how much the paycheck.

        #4 on the memo claiming that law enforcement ‘declined” to press charges. No one in the state of PA can be charged with child sex abuse crimes which occurred 45 years ago, due to the statute of limitations
        #7 on the memo..if the Review Board finds the sex abuse allegations to be substantiated and Fr Paul is removed from ministry then number #7 certainly needs to be revisited.

    • Michael or anyone did this Fr.Paul teach at St. Joes prep?

  9. How about he makes a retreat in which he reflects on how he might better keep his “willy” in his pants? If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, the expressed desire for spiritual enlightenment is the first refuge of the clerical scoundrel.

  10. Yeah, let’s send him to Italy for a retreat on our dime. That sounds like a plan. NOT.

    • The priesthood is only job in the world where you commit a crime and you get sent on a permanent vacation WITH PAY AND PENSION . You just have to tell them you will pray . They also have lots of freedom at this prayer snd penance place . In the meantime, lay people who work at 222 are losing so many benifits . Oh that right.. Somebody needs to pay for the lawyers and lobbyists GOD HELP US!

  11. Journalist Elizabeth Evans is looking for information and opinions on current recent staff changes in local parishes. She is also working on a newspaper article about the pending sale of archdiocesan nursing homes and lay pension fund changes. If you would like to contact her, please send her an email at Bellettrelliz@gmail.com.

  12. I went to Kennedy-Kenrick in the 90s and found out about the rumors regarding this priest during the time I went there appear to be true. I heard the same rumors about the couch in that Campus Ministry room that someone brought up earlier. I hope that anyone who might have been harmed by him and might need help dealing with what happened reach out to someone for help. Please don’t suffer in silence. There are professionals who can help you.

  13. http://news.yahoo.com/puerto-rico-priest-faces-federal-sex-charges-143832471.html

    The feds are finally getting involved in clergy sexual abuse. This is indeed a good sign

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