Father John Paul: Still More Questions Than Answers

One of the most common search terms that leads people to this site is the name of the laicized priest Father John Paul. It seems that many in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia still have questions concerning the John Paul case… we do, too.

Many C4C followers may remember the Paul case. He was allowed to stay in ministry as pastor of a parish for a year while being investigated for historical allegations of child sex abuse. The investigation was kept secret from the parishioners.

John Paul garnered, quite possibly, the most bizarre article ever written on Catholic Philly, where his retirement and travel plans were detailed along with the news that he was being investigated for child sexual abuse.

This article written only after he surprised the Archdiocese with a letter to his parish that he was resigning for “physical and spiritual” health reasons. He pulled a fast one on the Archdiocese with the letter and they were none too pleased. However, he still seemed to receive special treatment and was only placed on administrative leave after multiple individuals came forward to file reports of past abuse against him.

We announced John Paul’s administrative leave on C4C in November of 2013. The Archdiocese waited another month before making the announcement.

Paul was found unsuitable for ministry in February 2014 and was voluntarily laicized in June 2015. His name was finally added to the Archdiocese website section of  “clergy laicized for credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor,” in late 2018 – three full years later.

There are many questions that remain about the John Paul case, ranging from what some feel is an inaccurate assignment record, to also hearing that not all cases filed against him may have made it to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Review Board. The Archdiocese has not responded to our most recent questions about the John Paul case.

Please feel free to reach out if you have your own questions, would like to be in contact with others who reported abuse allegations by John Paul to the Archdiocese, or have any information you would like to share from his 40 years in ministry.  Together maybe we can all get the answers we are searching for in the curious case of John Paul.

You can reach us through the contact page.

17 thoughts on “Father John Paul: Still More Questions Than Answers

  1. Did anyone look into the case against father Anthony manupella. He was moved from Millville NJ and is now pastor of a church in Northfield. A seminarian accused him of sexual harassment among other things. Perhaps the case is pending but in the meantime he is still pastor of the church. What’s going on ???

    1. Well to be totally fair to all concerned an accusation is exactly that…an accusation. It is not proof of anything. My guess is that the priest is being thoroughly investigated by the diocese if for no other reason than to protect the diocese from a lawsuit.

  2. I want to take this very, very slowly and carefully. I knew John Paul very, very well. When I was a First College Seminarian at St Charles Borromeo in 1970 Rev. Mr. John Paul was the Deacon Prefect of St Stephen’s Dorm on the Lower Side of the Seminary and he lived with us who were in First College for that year. We had daily interaction and I must say he was a fine young Deacon, a good man and an upfront kind of guy. HOWEVER…..he was girl crazy. In all my experiences with priests as a Catholic school boy and high school student and later in Catholic College I never knew a priest who was more goofy over women than John. He was like a twelve year old boy who had just discovered the very rudiments of male sexuality. He was frankly a nut job about women. I attended Bishop McDevitt high school until the end of my junior year and then left for a Catholic High School seminary in Bucks County (St Mary’s Manor/Marist Prep in Penndel. It is no longer extant). All of my brothers and sisters graduated from McDevitt and most knew John Paul who served as Chaplin there in their time at the school. When I was in my forties my youngest sister told me two stories involving Father John Paul and her in two interactions when she was a student at McDevitt that I will not repeat here. I was not shocked but I was saddened. I asked her to go to the authorities. I do not know if she did or not. I think she may have. Anyway….to make a very long story short….I do not know how he got ordained in the first place. He was a good man but was obviously NOT cut out for celibacy. I do not think he was or is now an evil person. I DO THINK he is a man who never should have been ordained because he was not psycho sexually suited for celibacy. This is all that I can say as I try to be fair to everyone concerned.

    1. I am a bit confused here Thomas. I was too a McDevitt student and abused by Paul in the mid 80’s. I am sorry your sister experienced the same.
      The behavior that I witnessed and experienced was not that of a “girl crazy” man.
      First – I know for a fact that he was also reported for alleged abuse of males.
      Second – this was not a 18 year old guy who suddenly has all these hormones. This is a 40+ year old man chasing around teenage girls.
      And – if celibacy wasn’t his thing – leave the priesthood – go sow your wild oats – get married – whatever.
      Sexual abuse is not about sex – its about control and power.

      1. I do not argue with anything you say. ALL OF US have experienced this very differently, sometimes with the same priest, nun or brother. This is a very complicated and sad set of circumstances for everyone concerned even the abusers. I just feel the need to remind all of us that even the abusers as evil as their actions were and are have a humanity that must be taken into account here. I knew John Paul when I was a seminarian and he was a deacon. He would have been about 25 or 26 at that time. Even then I could see that he was not suitable for a celibate life. He was too girl crazy. But I had no experience with him abusing anyone. The entire situation is sad and painful for everyone.

  3. In your opinion, what might be the reason or reasons why some of the accusations made against John Paul did not make it to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Review Board?

    In my NY diocese, accusations made against priests, after the official compensation program ended last October, were to be reviewed for credibility by the diocesan Review Board. At least that’s what the Diocese posted on its website and conveyed to the media and the faithful. But, not mentioned at all is the fact that our local bishop has the authority to bypass the Review Board at will and personally deem an accusation credible or not, and he has exercised his authority in some instances. Why? Why would Chaput and my bishop (LaValley) supersede and bypass their respective Review Boards? It shouldn’t be permitted.

    1. That is an excellent question to which IMHO there is no adequate answer. The Catholic Church is a top down, stove pipe organization relative to any and all types of authority. Essentially bishops are petty kings who answer only to the Emperor, the Pope. Period. No exceptions. No explanations given. Frankly it is pretty much the crux of all problems in the modern Catholic Church. Organizationally the RCC is a dinosaur and so pretty much any and all abuse can be canonically allowed to be covered up when one of the nobility (priests, nuns, brothers) commits a crime. The local petty king just does what he must do to squelch it. This would be for obvious reasons of containing the damage and sustaining a revenue base among the Faithful so as not to hinder growth and sustainability of the physical plant owned by the diocese, i.e. so as not to hinder donations from the Faithful. IMHO the entire cover up phenomenon has to do with protecting the revenue stream coming into the Church every Sunday at collection time. It is not very complicated in my view.

  4. Micklega , I don’t have an answer to that question. An individual who filed a report a few years earlier was told in 2018 by an investigator that the report was not presented to the Review Board for review. Our understanding is that every allegation of sexual abuse is presented to the Review Board for review. If the Archdiocese would like to provide clarification they are most welcome to do so and we will print that explanation.

  5. John Paul was not a good man who was simply “girl crazy”. There was something inherently wrong with him. He abused his role as minister to bring in young girls at McDevitt and try to kiss them. This happened to several of my friends. He would drive us around in his car, at one point asking my sister to sit on his lap so he could “teach her how to drive”. There was something very dark within him.

  6. Thomas, very interesting points you make about how apparent it was that something was wrong with Paul so many years ago. From what we know the Archdiocese claims there was never anything known about him before 2013…nothing in the clergy file?..no concerns? complaints? observations? It is simply not believable. So thank you for letting us know that there were issues even obvious to you as a young person.

    As for “girl crazy” vs abusive, a world of difference .

    As for forgiveness that is up to an individual and not your place to weigh in. Justice usually plays a large part in any healing process and to expect people to forgive with no justice is a big ask on your part. If you haven’t noticed some people harmed by him have already chimed in…is giving them a space in the comments even too much to ask? It seems to be for you. I would not tell you how to think or feel,maybe give others that same respect. If you went out in your driveway today and saw that your car was stolen would you call the police and want your car back and justice for the theft, or would you simply forgive and go back in your house?
    You speak of anger and pent up rage when you have no idea of the feelings of the people commenting or reading. The Paul case has always been a puzzle and we are trying to put together the pieces. Being productive is a big release for many…you seem to be making very broad assumptions.

    1. I will never forgive him. I will never forgive the people that moved him around from place to place – the teachers and adults at McDevitt that knew and did nothing (and they did know).
      I have had many people tell me to forget about it – to move on. I can’t until I get answers.
      One particular incident haunts me to this day – an interaction with him over the span of several hours that I only remember bits and pieces of. Was I drugged? What happened during that missing time? Do you have any idea how hard it is to search your mind and there is nothing there?
      One thing for sure – if I ever see him in person – I will not hold onto my rage. It will come out – with a swift quick to the balls!

  7. As someone who is a clergy abuse survivor, I will say that both Kathy and Susan have been faithful advocates for all of us. Both have gotten us answers – put us in contact with attorneys and others that can help – and been constant sounding boards for our anger, frustration, fears and despair. They have heard the most difficult of stories from many. And yet they are always available – ready to listen – to help.
    You’re barking up the wrong tree Thomas in speaking for survivors against Kathy and Susan.
    Perhaps you should control your rage – take a few deep meditative breaths – and put it behind you – just move on. Rage is like poison – it will eat you from the inside out.
    Weren’t they your words of wisdom?

  8. Okay everyone so the last 10 comments or so were removed so we can get back on track about the post at hand. Many people are visiting the site and I do not want anyone scared off from commenting based on how sideways that conversation went….if your comment was removed please don’t take it personally it was simply to get back on track after the post was hijacked mid way through. Back to putting the pieces of the Paul puzzle together . Thanks!

  9. Thanks Kathy and Susan. I have many questions – I am hoping we can all band together for answers. We hear alot about Paul’s escapades at McDevitt but does anyone have any experience with him at Kennedy, Kenrick, St. James or Wood?

  10. Father John Paul was sent to my parish, Our Lady of Calvary Church after our Monsignor Gillespie was removed for the sexual abuse of children. The archdiocese replaced a predator with yet another predator. How sad is that?
    Thomas, you need much education, my friend. Not only was Father John Paul a sexual predator, he was an arrogant, thoughtless and unappreciative man. He sent a letter to the parish once he was forced to leave it, basically blaming the bishop and local hierarchy for all his problems. Not once did he thank the parishioners for support financial or otherwise. Nor did he apologize or acknowledge any accountability for his behavior. He just denied and lied about it. He was not well received at Our Lady of Calvary. He was not beloved and I feel it had little to do with the crushing blow we received when Fr. Gillespie self reported his sexual abuse of children to the Grand Jury. Remember, Gillespie was the one who tried to apologize to the 2 brothers he abused and the bishop removed him immediately to the St. Johns place for pedophile priests. I went to Father John Paul after it happened and asked him to help me get my head around it and I was appalled by his arrogance and lack of sensitivity. It made more sense a few years later when he himself was laicized for similar atrocious behaviors. He was not a nice guy. He was not a kind guy. he made it seem like money was his most important priority. He always had some hustle going on. I personally had to pay him $250 to come and pray at my husbands funeral. Thomas, please educate yourself about pedophilia. John Paul was accused of abusing minors. Grown men are keenly aware of the age of consent. Your boy was not. Bottom line, John paul should be in jail just like anyone else that abused kids. Our priest have circumvented that process and this is why many of us have fired our church and await the time that it is sufficiently healed to return. Thomas you are not helping by making excuses for these guys.

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