Father John Paul Laicized After Being Allowed to Stay as Pastor During Secret Investigation

Father John Paul has chosen voluntary laicization. It’s a quiet end to a situation that enraged parents and those who came forward with allegations. Due to Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse, he can not be charged with any crimes.

In November of 2013, Father Paul resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish in Philadelphia for “physical and spiritual” health reasons. It was revealed that those “health” issues stemmed from two separate allegations of child sex abuse. At the time, we were outraged that the Archdiocese permitted him to remain as pastor for over a year while he was secretly investigated. When the information became public with his retirement, the Archdiocese suspended him.

The archdiocesan official statement stated, “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.” He was a pastor running a parish and school. How does one avoid children in that position? Pertinent parties did not include parents. That shows very little respect for families. Maybe our archdiocese leadership will attend some helpful workshops during the World Meeting.

The resulting news coverage in 2013 prompted over a dozen alleged victims to come forward. Many had been students from high schools where he taught. Several were from Bishop McDevitt during the 1980s.

This cover up took place in 2013 – not in the distant past. Parents must continue to be concerned and aware.

44 thoughts on “Father John Paul Laicized After Being Allowed to Stay as Pastor During Secret Investigation

  1. And yet another ‘PERP’ walks b/c of the SOL , caltagirone/marsico/verb/greenleaf & et al must be ecstatic !

  2. The answer to the question on how a pastor of a school and parish remains separate from
    children is , they don’t. As evidenced in the recent court decision to hold Msgr. Lynn accountable for his actions. Charles Chaput should be more concerned with the mess in his own house, than making statements putting down the court decision to legalize LGBT marriage in the US. Marriage, an institution he, personally, has no experience of. Turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children and condemning a community of people only wanting to love, openly and freely, makes me embarrassed to be a Catholic.

    1. Franklin Graham writes:”The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled yesterday that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it.

      Long before our government came into existence, marriage was created by the One who created man and woman—Almighty God—and His decisions are not subject to review or revision by any man-made court. God is clear about the definition of marriage in His Holy Word: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

      I pray God will spare America from His judgment, though, by our actions as a nation, we give Him less and less reason to do so.”

      Archbishop Chaput said just what he should have said regarding the Supreme Court decision yesterday. He is upholding the Truth of God’s Word. As far as his credibility on keeping predator priests away from our children…..I don’t trust him one bit.

      1. Well Linda, you have a right to your opinion. And being on a site that has Catholic in its name, can’t say I’m surprised. However, any institution -especially- a religious one, that has so many deep, dark secrets, particularly where children are involved, I find it highly offensive that they look down on anyone. You can quote scripture all you want….by the way, is there anything you can quote about the rape and sodomy of innocent children, you know Gods word?

        1. Deidre, I encourage you to read the Bible. What I wrote above was not my opinion or that of Franklin Graham…it was God’s Truth. If you are asking me what is more offensive to God, sexual abuse of children or homosexual unions…it’s not for me to say. You’ll have to ask Our Lord on Judgment Day.

          John 14:15-17 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

          1. There are too many people affected by the Fr Paul case who are reading this post and coming to this site for support to have it sidetracked by debates about gay marriage so I am respectfully asking anyone who wants to have that debate to take it somewhere else. This site is about abuse of children..which is a crime… If comments continue to post taking the focus off of the Paul case they will be pulled. Thanks

          2. Thank you Kathy. I could not go to Mass today because I know my pastor would stand at the pulpit and preach how the US is going to hell – much as he does every Sunday – with the recent Supreme Court decision. But not a word about the people who sit in his pews – hurt and scarred by the Church.

            A couple of months ago there was a Mass with the theme being Human Trafficking. Homily about it – multiple intentions during the Prayer of the Faithful – theme of the prayers of the Mass. I was disgusted.

            Every Mass said in every diocese in the US should have an intention for the victims of the crimes of this church.

          3. Kathy, sorry, I didn’t mean for things to get off topic. Poor example on my part. My point was that when the church has an official opinion or teaching on anything, Chaput has no problem getting in front of the camera and speaking about it, or writing about it. However, when it comes to the horrific things that have happened in his own Archdiocese under his leadership and/or those before him, he is silent. We have to dig for and beg for any bit of information.

  3. As one of those who filed a complaint with the Archdiocese and the Montgomery County DA’s office, this provides some closure. Paul is now robbed of a position where people looked at him with trust and he violated that trust. He has no power – is held in no great esteem as a “man of God”. I could say that he is just like us – a normal person – but he is not. While the “official” Archdiocesan statement will never say it – he is a chronic abuser, a manipulator, a liar.

    If this journey has taught me one thing, it is to find gratitude in the trials of life.

    I am grateful for friends who have stood by me, listened to me when it wasn’t easy, cried with me, and supported me. And I am grateful that I saw the true colors in some “friends” and they no longer cloud my life.

    I am grateful for the strength of all those who made complaints against Paul that eventually caused this outcome – particularly my fellow McDevitt graduates.

    I am grateful for the professionalism of the Office of Investigation as the Archdiocese as well as Montgomery County detectives.

    I am grateful for Kathy and Susan who listen to all of us, pursue the truth, and work to insure that what happened to me and others will never happen again.

    And I am grateful for all of you – and for not being alone.

    I continue to heal – to rebuild my faith – to educate others – to continue my journey. One person will not take me down.

    1. “I continue to heal – to rebuild my faith – to educate others – to continue my journey. One person will not take me down.”

      Thank you Owlfan! It’s nice to know someone else is on a similar path.
      The only thing that wasn’t mentioned that I’ve been working on for 12 years is forgiveness. For me it’s the key but so hard to do when the Church keeps re-victimizing victims.



      1. Miguel, I am also a survivor and have posed this question of forgiveness to my therapist. I like her counsel on the topic. No survivor should even think about forgiveness until he or she has done the work needed to heal ourselves. We must put ourselves first, be self-caring and then and only then IF we choose to forgive it is up to us. What makes forgiveness very difficult for most survivors, myself included, is that these so called men of God that did their horrific deeds to us never came forward to ask OUR forgiveness they asked God’s forgiveness. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way, you go to the person you have offended and ask for their forgiveness. Please be patient with yourself, Miguel. As for me, I have had 30 years in therapy, I have chosen not to forgive for the exact same reasons you have stated above, they have learned nothing instead I continue to be loving and gentle with myself.

    2. I was at McDevitt in the early 80’s and everyone at the school new Fr. Paul was a predator. I was warned on my first car pool ride to the school to stay away from him. Things didn’t work out that way and I fell victim to the man. When I read some other web site that act like he is the victim I am incenced. I’m gussing that the number of people who came forward is a small handful of the total, given what I experienced.

      Have I forgiven him? I have no idea. I don’t dwell on what happened but it has impacted me in many ways I care not to talk about. I have issues with the church. While I believe in God, I find it very difficult to go to mass and rarely attend. That may change as the years pass since every now and the I go at a random time.

      This is the first place I’ve seen that has people speaking out from McDevitt. It has been a blessing to me to see this. I have not even driven by the school in at least 25 years. I talk to no one who attended. Why? I was embarassed by what happened and felt like I couldn’t show my face.

      1. Meb – I was one who filed a complaint with Archdiocese investigators and Montco detectives about Paul. I understand completely your pain and know that you are not alone! I have experienced many of the issues that you write about but have gotten help thru therapy and doctors that the Archdiocese pays for – and will pay for – for the rest of my life.

        If you would like to talk further – I am more than willing to help. If you contact Susan or Kathy on this site – they know how to get in touch with me.

  4. Susan, do laicized priests receive their pension? Will anyone monitor him, or is he free to do as he pleases now? Maybe take those trips he talked about when he first decided to “retire”. Will this information be in church bulletins? Has the Archdiocese released a statement about this? As a graduate of McDevitt in the 1980s I remember him well. We all knew, even then, what a disgusting fraud this guy was. It sickens me that he gets to just walk away now. Maybe there should be a workshop during the World Meeting of Families called “Predators Never Retire”.

    1. Catholicmom – I’ll answer some questions as I asked the AOP investigator some of the same. Not sure about the pension. He is not monitored – not registered as a sex offender. There is no “official” announcement from the AOP – that happened when he was removed from active ministry. He appears on no lists. He sort of just disappears.

      1. Thank you owlfan for your reply. I really would like to know about the pension and I hope Susan can find out for us. And thank you for coming forward with your experience. On the news last night Chaput was talking about how we should move forward in the “debris” of the decision about same sex marriage. No mention of the huge pile of “debris” he should be dealing with in our archdiocese. There is not a big enough rug in the world to hide that pile under. Thanks again and I’m glad you feel some closure.

    2. Catholic Mom, they do receive their pension. So be sure to give big to the collection basket. No one will monitor him and he is free to do as he pleases. He could get a job with children or move in next to a family. That’s why changing PA’s statutes of limitations is so critical. You are so right – predators never retire. And yet, the PA Catholic Conference fights improvements to our laws because they don’t want the financial liability. Moral liability doesn’t seem to concern the leadership.

      1. Ms Matthews, you are a dangerous person. You know too much. And connect the dots all too well. Watch your back. (Only half kidding)

  5. He is free to travel and do whatever he wants. The big difference is that he no longer has the the position that afforded him so much power and protection and so many opportunities during his 40 year crime spree. BTW, I found this little bit of information from people who study this and though maybe the Archdiocese should know that just because someone has a history of ephebophilia, that does not mean they won’t take advantage of other opportunities. I would be careful of anyone who appears to be a kindly old man on the Ocean City boardwalk.

  6. A few thoughts. There are people all over society who are either being investigated for crimes against children and remain free in society before an arrest, or those will never be charged because of the statutes. The world can be a dangerous place. However to load kids on to a school bus..have parents dropping off kids to any school or parish with no knowledge that a possible predator under investigation is present on the same campus as their children…there are no words.
    When I spoke to the Office Of Investigations about this practice I was told “we have never left a person at a parish that we thought was a threat” Interesting because as a parent it is my job to determine what and who is a threat to my child. That is a right that is trampled by keeping investigations secret and exposing kids for the duration.
    Former Review Board members have come out against the use of these “monitoring teams ” . The Philadelphia Priest Assoc. has been open to having investigations announced for the sake of transparency. So how does this still happen? It happens because the basic rights of parents are not respected. The Paul situation brought to light that this practice was still in place.

    When the Paul situation broke in the news, C4C had reports coming our way and we respectfully contacted the Archdiocese to relay these developments. I also emailed to ask the policies as to how this still happens that those under investigation could be left for almost a year at a parish. Also the most bizarre article ever on Catholic Philly that made his exit sound so normal. I had questions.Many of the people I was emailing are parents..it is no longer Msgr Lynn running around the Archdiocese making lists and trying to keep a lid on all this. An email was mistakenly sent to me which said “she is emailing everyone and their mother”. That’s right..you bet..as a parent I will stand and ask questions for the sake of all kids..how this makes sense to any parent whether they receive a paycheck from the Archdiocese or not is mind boggling. Nothing..no religion or job will ever stand in front of my basic parental instincts for safety of children.

    1. “she is emailing everyone and their mother” is proof that the system is still in place. How are the people 222 getting paid? They still expect to be accountable only for what they choose to reveal and to minimize the impact their policies had whenever they speak to the press. One victim was reminded that Paul was not a known “pedophile” as the majority of his victims were 14 and older. Ephebophile or pedophile- it does not matter. Guess they don’t have any teens at Calvary? Teens who might have been having a bad day. Paul has been known to have teens in his car. Many!

  7. I should also say that I am proud of others who came forward from other institutions and made complaints – Archbishop Wood, Bishop Kenrick, Archbishop Kennedy – to name a few. The list was long – which makes you wonder how this was kept quiet for 30+ years?

  8. We can only wonder how many “secret investigations” are continuing. And now, this man is free to go and do as he wishes. Just how much has changed in Philadelphia ?

  9. This post is directed to the very brave survivors who came forward to out this perpetrator. As a fellow survivor, I stand proudly with each one of you in solidarity! You all put the shame, the pain, the blame, the betrayal back onto this perpetrator where it belongs. For me, when I confronted all 3 priests, I provided elasticity to my heart so I didn’t become rigid or worse paralyzed with the shame and hopelessness. For decades in America while bishops and cardinals protected these priests, moving them from parish to parish and circumventing criminal and civil laws regarding child abuse. We survivors are beginning to show ourselves, after years of hiding our truth. Some survivors are damaged beyond repair, suffering from a laundry list of emotional, spiritual and physical wounds. Despite this reality, we have never seen a single bishop or cardinal indicted for their criminal complicity in the childhood sexual abuse of children. There is not a single word from the federal government on this issue. Although grand juries have been convened in many states, to date there have been no indictments except Lynn, despite undeniable evidence of wrongdoing. How is it that the Catholic Church in America has escaped virtually all responsibility for its criminal behavior? Prosecutors point to the statute of limitations as to why they don’t act If that is true, where is their urgent leadership to change the statutes? They should be working around the clock to close this legal loophole and protect children. The few changes in statutes that have taken effect have been prompted primarily by abuse victims-not prosecutors. The Catholic Church has fought these changes with vigor, more concerned with protecting their bank accounts than with justice for their victims. So why are so many of our political leaders, local and state so silent? I firmly believe that in their arrogance they believe that church law trumps our civil and criminal law. And why shouldn’t they believe this? Too few of our public leaders have done anything to demonstrate to them that they are mistaken. They will continue to operate above the law, protecting and sheltering its criminal priests and ignoring its responsibility to the children they have destroyed.

    Just to refresh our memories: Below are excerpts from the bishops “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”. June 15, 2002

    “Through pastoral outreach to victims and their families, the diocese bishop will offer to meet with them, to listen with patience and compassion”.

    “Diocese will have mechanisms in place to respond promptly to any allegation where there is reason to believe that sexual abuse of a minor has occurred.”

    “Diocese will not enter into confidentiality agreements except for grave and substantial reasons brought forward by the survivor.”

    “When the preliminary investigation of a complaint…against a priest or deacon so indicates, the diocese bishop will relieve the alleged offender promptly of his ministerial duties.”

    “Each diocese will develop a communications policy that reflects a commitment to transparency and openness.”

    Diocese will establish safe environment programs. They will cooperate with parents, civil authorities, educators and community organizations to provide education and training for children, youth, ministers, educators and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment.”

    When a cleric is proposed for a new assignment, transfer, residence in another diocese… or residence in the local community, the sending bishop will forward the receiving bishop an accurate and complete description of the cleric’s record, including whether there is anything in his background or service that would raise questions about his fitness for ministry.”

    How many if any have they followed?

  10. About 4 years ago I was asked To be The Godfather of my Niece. I was required to get a letter from My Parrish {Our Lady Of Calvary} stating I was a Member in good standing. I had stopped going to church about a year before that because of the Abuse cover up & Scandal. When I contacted the Rectory for the letter I was told Father John Paul would Review my request and ” Get Back To Me “. After 2 weeks with no response I called the Rectory again and was put on hold for 15 minutes. Fr. John Paul finally got on the Phone & asked me why he could find no records of “My Fair Share’ contributions for the last year ? I Explained why I no longer was attending church on a weekly basis. He had the nerve to tell me he could not give me the letter because he had ” No Idea” or “Proof” If I been a “Good Catholic” Can you Believe the Nerve of this PREDATOR, SINNER & LAW BREAKER !

    1. Vicky, thanks so much for this. It really has made me think. The staff at the AoP who have worked with me have been phenomenal, so I believe there are some people there who really would like to stick with the guidelines and do the jobs they were hired to do.

      What I don’t understand is the inconsistency. The leadership appears to be doing the right thing in some public cases, but is the Paul case, we know it all went wrong. For 40 + years, he has had some form of protection. Crazy that he and DePaoli were at McDevitt at the same time and so many are left with the memory that these were their religion teachers.

      We know that there were 2 allegations to start and more than a dozen who came forward after that (many more, I am sure, have decided it was too painful to come forward). If we had known when the initial allegations surfaced, we would have come forward sooner.

      Why were we outraged? He got an article on CatholicPhilly. Have they posted an update? Nope. Someone believed he was harmless and let him stay at Calvary.

      They know what he did and they still cannot say because he some protection to design his own pathway to freedom. “Well, you should have forward sooner.” I DID and nothing could be done then. I am sure I am not the only one who tried, but the system we were in still kept him safe.

      Former students and parishioners are remembering him being creepy and they think it stops there. They will never know that he went well beyond creepy and did some serious harm to some vulnerable kids.

      So, then and now, he was and is still safe. Only one substantiated allegation on his record. Not right at all.

  11. OLC is my parish for more than 50 years. When the original grand jury investigation went public and exposed the priests accused of these atrocities, I was devastated. I reached out to Father John Paul and he sat with me face to face. I was appalled by his arrogant disconnect to the pain that the parishioners were facing. He had a obvious lack of empathy for the survivors as well. A few years later, I would learn why. He himself was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Take a look at the letter he wrote the parish in the bulletin, not one shred of humility, not once did he thank the hard working, generous people that “make” our parish work. This guy should have never been given the opportunity to “step down”. He should have been hauled out of that rectory in hand cuffs and should be sitting in a cell next to Lynn. This blatant lack of transparency, this horrific, deliberate recycling of predators back into our church communities is what is keeping a lot of us away. Wake up Chaput and stop aligning yourself with these criminals that abuse kids.

  12. Monsignor John Gillespie was also a pastor and pedophile at Our Lady of Calvary school in Philadelphia for many years. How quick we forget. Only to be replaced by another one John Paul. I and my family are no longer Catholic because of all these priests. I use the term loosely. My previous post was not acknowledged nor shown. Maybe because all of it was very true. One teacher at present …. I will say no more.

    1. Hi Barbara, I can’t find your previous comment. I checked our spam folder and the folder with comments waiting to be approved. Not sure what happened, but please feel free to repost.

  13. I first want to say thanks to everyone, as each of you are speaking and acting in complete truthfulness. The greatest difficulty I have had with the catholic church is its denial. The denial in the catholic leadership appears to be an energy of maintaining their defense against dealing with truth. It is as if by not dealing with the truth it will not get to them. It is as if resisting seeing the truth will maintain their relationships. If the church’s energy is warding off the reality of truth, rather than dealing with it, then they are not only resisting responsibilities toward others but even toward themselves. The leaders in the church do not even realize how much their dissociation from the truth has cost others.

    The church appears so dissociated from truth to the point now they do not even want to deal with the truth. It is the fog of dissociation. They deny anything even happened. They are blank, like an infantile state of denial. It is as if they need to present “images” of themselves, such as the Pope kissing babies, as if this this is the real thing. And yet omission has consequences which cannot be undone. It creates horror. People are now pushing on them and putting pressure on them from which they cannot flee. Because they do not want to face the awareness of being neglectful, even face the dissociation what they have done, the church is cutting itself off from everyone. Because of this extreme state of dissociation it is breaking the catholic church into parts and splitting it into many different and fragmented pieces.

    Abandonment from people is a church reinvesting into various fragments of themselves, each of which represents an aspect of the church that is repressed and denied. Thus, the catholic church appears caught in a trance and their image is now what is important. In fact, the church appears accustomed to identifying with the performance to the point they now do not know what people really need from church. One point I could make is the catholic church needs to stop basing its value of God on a reward system and who can receive communion. This teaches people to have an “improved and polished” picture of themselves. It is like developing the image that they believe is acceptable and worthwhile and then they receive communion where they expect others to support and applaud it.

    What is truly heart wrenching is hostility is breaking out all over the world and even in the catholic church. The leaders in the church may feel mystified by the intensity of people’s negative feeling toward them. And yet the leaders in the catholic church are master of dissociation, mentally checking out. The dissociation is now flight from both truth and life. Those people who want truth are now the enemy. This complete dissociation from the harm they have done is passive resistance and their denial is a pathetic state.

    1. Jim I moderated earlier as because at the same time people who were harmed were commenting..the discussion was veering off into the gay marriage debate. You can see my comment above. I always try to picture online comments like conversations..a topic such as this is is brought up..someone standing there saying i was one harmed and then all of the sudden someone starts talking about the gay marriage news..it just is not the time or place today..people are coming to the site who are involved in this story and the most relevant comments from people involved were getting bumped down further and further. How comments come in and when they post is out of our control but we can control trying to direct the conversation back to the fact that a priest was left at a parish during an investigation..many from the past are now seeking some type of healing and part of that is our posts..and that is the route we are taking on this thread.

      1. Kathy: My post had nothing to do with gay marriage. What I posted was that Archbishop Chaput before the Supreme Court had even ruled, stated that he didn’t want gay Catholics protesting in September when the pope visited.. I stated that the easiest way to guarantee that there would be protests was for someone like Chaput to forbid it. I questioned where Chaput has the moral authority to forbid such protests. I also questioned whether Chaput would issue the same kind of statement if Clergy abuse victims were to decide to protest.I did compare the treatment that gays have received from the Catholic Hierarchy with the treatment victims of clergy abuse have received. In closing I stated that I didn’t think Pope Francis would issue that kind of statement, saying that he would welcome both groups. I do not know what you read.But I do not appreciate censorship and for that reason I will no longer be associated with this site.

        1. I want to say thanks for what you have offered us Jim and thanks for keeping your own authority within you. I did not experience you being overly reactive and I am pleased you could be your own person — solid and real.

        2. Ok Jim no problem… we were trying to have the conversation stay away from any controversial topics where people get off track and the arguing over other issues begins ( as seen above) because people who were harmed were coming to the site and to me that trumps all. If you see it as censorship I am sorry. I can tell you from experience that when we post concerning suspended, removed or laicized priests…those most affected come to the site..some for the first time which is why the attempt to keep things on track.

    2. Jim, please do not go, I look forward to your posts. We are in this together meaning our time-line the 1960’s! Your my buddy. I also look forward to meeting you, are you coming to Phila any time soon?

  14. “Father Paul remained in ministry at the parish since that time in a restricted capacity ‘in that he had no unsupervised contact with minors.” Official archdiocesan statement.

    File this one under “Chaput and his Candor” (subtitled “A Search for Integrity”)

  15. My sincere regrets to all those who endured this trauma. You will remain in my daily prayers. I have been a Catholic for 56 years. I have never been abused, thank you Lord. How sad I feel for those who have.

Leave a Reply to owlfanCancel reply