Baltimore Archdiocese shuts down Mass at city parish after priest abuse scandal

baltimore basilica Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption, the seat of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. | Credit: Public domain

The Archdiocese of Baltimore said last week that Masses and sacraments at a Baltimore parish would be discontinued after its pastor was removed there last month following a scandal over sex abuse accusations and hush money.

Baltimore priest Father Paschal Morlino, OSB, the former pastor of St. Benedict Parish, was suspended from priestly duties last month after an investigation from the archdiocese.

The priest told a local media outlet earlier in October that years ago he had entered a confidential $200,000 settlement to quiet allegations of sexual assault and financial fraud. The archdiocese said in a statement last month that after being made aware of the report, it immediately began an investigation and decided within 24 hours, along with Morlino’s Benedictine order, to remove Morlino as pastor of St. Benedict and suspend his priestly faculties.

In a statement on Saturday, the archdiocese announced that “a pastor will not be named for St. Benedict Church” following Morlino’s removal and that “because of this, the number of ministries will be limited going forward.”

“The difficult decision was made based on the limited number of clergy available for this ministry,” the archdiocese said in its statement.

“Regrettably, the decision also means that Mass, the sacraments, sacramental preparation, and worship services will no longer continue at St. Benedict Church, effective on Nov. 15, 2023,” the archdiocese said.

“We understand that this news comes at a difficult time for the parishioners,” the statement continued. “An outreach team will be available to assist parishioners and if they wish, help them receive Catholic pastoral services at nearby parishes.”

The archdiocese noted that the Benedictines at St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, who own the Baltimore parish itself, “have engaged the parish’s dedicated volunteers and have formulated a plan to continue various community outreach programs” at the Benedictine-owned property. 

“Please pray for the parishioners of St. Benedict during this difficult time,” the archdiocese implored in its statement. The archdiocese did not respond to a query on Monday morning.

Morlino had been pastor at St. Benedict for more than 30 years. 

He had told the local Baltimore Banner last month, in what the outlet called “a wide-ranging, 90-minute interview,” that he had been accused of rape and had paid $200,000 to his accuser several years ago. 

“I just wanted to keep him quiet, to be rid of him, because he was just stirring up trouble,” Morlino told the Banner. “My conscience is clear; it’s all stuff that he made up.”

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