by Susan Matthews
Kathy Kane noticed that Father John Paul’s name was removed from the official clergy list at some point this past week. Father Paul resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish in Philadelphia on Sunday, Nov. 10 for “physical and spiritual” health reasons stemming from two separate allegations of child sex abuse. A name removal from the clergy list is significant and usually doesn’t result from a resignation. For instance, Father John Wackerman of St. Joseph’s in Downingtown resigned the same day. His name is still on the list. To be clear, unlike Father Paul, Father Wackerman did not resign under the cloud of sex abuse allegations. However, the archdiocese seemed to defend their decision allow Father Paul to remain in ministry, despite accusations. So why remove his name from the list now? We are waiting for a response from the Archdiocesan Office for Communications.
A carefully-worded article on CatholicPhilly.com, the official news source of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, covered the details Father Paul’s resignation.
Note that children are referred to as minors. I’m a mother of two children – not two minors. Are you a parent? How many minors are you raising? Please don’t dehumanize. I especially enjoyed this line – “after review the Philadelphia district attorney declined to press charges.” Declined? There’s some spin. The current statue of limitations on child sex abuse makes it impossible for the DA to press charges. The decision may have had absolutely nothing to do with evidence, guilt or innocence. It could have everything to do with our current crappy state laws. There’s no statute of limitations on murder. There shouldn’t be one for child sex abuse either.
Back to the article. It goes on to share the archdiocesan official statement, “Father Paul remained in ministry at the parish since that time in a restricted capacity ‘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.” I’d like to know who was put in charge of babysitting Father Paul 24/7 to ensure that he had no contact with minors. He was a pastor running a parish and school. How does one avoid children in that position?
“Pertinent parties were notified.” The archdiocese did not consider parents “pertinent parties” when it comes to child sex abuse allegations. Who could possibly be more pertinent? The archdiocese did not give parents the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding the safety of their children. Anyone outraged by this? And, finally, what exactly is a monitoring and support plan? Really? How about a leave of absence during the investigation?
I want to be clear that Kathy and I aren’t passing judgment on Father Paul’s guilt or innocence. We are furious that parents continue to be the last to know when it comes to child sex abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This isn’t Our Lady of Calvary’s problem. This a problem for every Catholic parent. The archdiocese is asking for thoughts on family issues for the upcoming Papal visit. I’ve got a few. How about you?