Two priests formerly connected to Northeast churches have been found “unsuitable for ministry,” parishioners were told last weekend.
The announcements of Archbishop Charles Chaput’s decision to remove the Rev. John Paul and the Rev. James Collins were made at Masses Saturday and Sunday at Our Lady of Calvary and St. Martha’s, both Far Northeast parishes. The city’s Roman Catholic archdiocese had put both men on administrative leave last year while the allegations were investigated.
In the archdiocesan announcement released to the media on Feb. 23, Chaput said there were substantiated allegations against both men that each had sexually abused a 17-year-old minor more than 40 years ago. The archdiocese stressed that the men’s cases are not related to each other and are not related to the cases of priests placed on administrative leave following a 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual abuse of minors by the city’s Roman Catholic clergy.
Collins, 75, was ordained in 1964. He retired from Holy Family University early last year, and had resided at St. Martha’s on Academy Road before he was put on leave in May. Paul, 67, was ordained in 1972. He had been pastor of Our Lady of Calvary in Millbrook for 13 years before he resigned in November. He was put on administrative leave soon afterward.
When they were put on leave last year, they were forbidden to have public ministries, wear clerical clothing or present themselves as priests while the archdiocese investigated them.
Paul had denied the allegations, the archdiocese said last year.
Before coming to Our Lady of Calvary in Millbrook, Paul had served in several suburban parishes and high schools, including Archbishop Wood in Warminster.
The archdiocese said Paul’s case was referred to the DA’s office. Tasha Jamerson, the DA’s spokeswoman, last year said she couldn’t comment on cases unless charges are filed, but she added that the DA couldn’t file charges anyway since the allegations are 45-years old and the statute of limitations would have run out.
Ditto for Collins. Again, since the allegations were that crimes were committed more than four decades ago, Jamerson said last year, no charges could be filed.
Before retiring, Collins was a fulltime member of Holy Family’s Religious Studies Department, the university stated last year. According to the archdiocese, Collins was ordained in 1964. He served in several parishes and schools, including Roman Catholic High School, Cardinal Dougherty High School and St. Christopher parish in Somerton.
According to the archdiocese, Collins and Paul have the right to appeal Chaput’s decisions to the Vatican.
If they don’t appeal or if their appeals don’t succeed, they could be “removed from the clerical state,” the archdiocese continued, or they could live lives of prayer and penance.
Paul’s and Collins’s cases were referred to authorities and then investigated by the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibility, which made recommendations to the archbishop.
According to church law, archdiocesan spokesman Ken Gavin explained last year, the archdiocese is required to continue to provide benefits to priests unless they are removed from their clerical states by the Vatican.
Collins and Paul currently live in private residences, Gavin stated Tuesday. ••