Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia had found two local priests to be unsuitable for ministry following separate, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago, the archdiocese has announced.
As a result of the archbishop’s determination, made public Feb. 23, neither priest will have any public ministry in the archdiocese.
The priests may appeal the decisions to the Holy See. However, if they choose not to, or if they appeal unsuccessfully, they may be laicized – or removed from the clerical state. They may also be instructed to live a life of prayer and penance.
Announcements of the archbishop’s decision have been made at the parishes where the priests last served before being placed on administrative leave when the allegations were introduced.
Fr. James J. Collins, age 75, was ordained a priest in 1964. Archbishop Chaput placed him on administrative leave in May 2013 after receiving allegations that he had sexually abused a minor more than four decades ago.
Fr. John P. Paul, age 67, was ordained a priest in 1972. He was placed on administrative leave in December 2013 following allegations that he had sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago.
The two cases are not related to one another, the archdiocese clarified. Nor are they connected to the cases of priests placed on administrative leave after a February 2011 Grand Jury Report.
In both the case of Fr. Collons and that of Fr. Paul, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia followed its Policy for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was enacted in October 2012. Allegations against the priests were reported to the district attorney’s office for law enforcement to investigate for possible criminal charges.
Upon the district attorney’s declination of criminal charges, the Archdiocesan Office of Investigations conducted an investigation, turning over results to the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibility Review Board, an advisory committee of 12 men and women, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who have broad professional backgrounds in investigating and dealing with sexual abuse of minors.
The board examines allegations of both sexual abuse and boundary violations and offers recommendations about suitability for ministry to the archbishop, who is responsible for making the final decision involving those accused.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia reiterated its commitment to protecting minors, cooperating with law enforcement authorities, and offering support and assistance to victims of sexual abuse.