Father James J. Collins, 74, has been suspended from ministry following an allegation that he sexually abused a minor over 40 years ago. No other such allegation has been received against him.
Archbishop Charles Chaput placed the priest on administrative leave Sunday, May 26, the Archdiocese announced in a statement. The decision is not connected to the cases of priests placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
Father Collins, ordained in 1964, had been a professor at Holy Family University since 1976 before he retired early this year. He had been living at St. Martha Rectory in Northeast Philadelphia. Parishioners there were informed of the action at Masses this weekend.
The archdiocesan statement said that although the priest lived at the rectory, “he had no formal duties at the parish, did not assist at Masses or make visits to the school. The archdiocese also communicated information about this allegation to Holy Family University.”
The archdiocese provided no details on the nature of the allegation, which said was received and immediately reported to law enforcement officials. The information was also reviewed by the archdiocesan Office of Investigations, the Office for Child and Youth Protection and the Office of the Vicar for Clergy. Those offices provided a joint recommendation to the Archbishop, who decided to place Father Collins on administrative leave pending any possible action by law enforcement and a full internal investigation.
“In keeping with standing Archdiocesan policy, that internal investigation will not proceed until after the allegation is reviewed by the district attorney’s office,” the statement said.
While on administrative leave he is not permitted to exercise his public ministry pending the outcome of the investigation.
Father Collins is 74 years old. He was ordained in 1964. He served at the following parishes, schools and offices: St. John the Evangelist, Philadelphia (1964); Roman Catholic High School for Boys (1964-1965); St. Paul, Philadelphia (1964-1965); Office of the Metropolitan Tribunal (1964-1965); Our Lady of Pompeii, Philadelphia (1965); student priest at the Pontifical North American College, Rome (1965-1968); St. Stephen, Philadelphia (1966); Cardinal Dougherty High School, Philadelphia (1968-1969); Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia (1968-1975); Roman Catholic High School for Boys, Philadelphia (1969-1976); St. Paul, Philadelphia (1975-1976); St. Christopher, Philadelphia (1976); Holy Family University (1976-2013); placed on administrative leave (2013).
The statement advised anyone wishing to report an allegation of sexual abuse to contact local law enforcement and the Office for Investigations at 1-888-930-9010; or to report a violation of Archdiocese’s Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries, to contact the archdiocesan Office for Investigations at 1-888-930-9010.