Father John P. Paul, the former pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish in Northeast Philadelphia, has been placed on administrative leave by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia made the announcement in a statement Dec. 15.
The move comes in response to allegations that Father Paul, 67, sexually abused minors over 30 years ago.
While on administrative leave he is not permitted to exercise public ministry, administer any of the sacraments, wear clerical attire or present himself publicly as a priest pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the archdiocese.
The priest was not among the dozens of priests suspended following the 2011 Grand Jury Report. His case was announced separately from the decisions Archbishop Chaput made Dec. 15 on the cases of seven other priests who had been suspended since 2011.
In its statement, the archdiocese said it received allegations last year and earlier this year that Father Paul had sexually abused minors over 40 years ago during his time as a seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Father Paul was ordained a priest in 1972.
Following archdiocesan policy established in October 2012, the allegations were reported to law enforcement, which after a lengthy investigation, did not press charges.
The allegations were 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, according to the archdiocesan statement, made a joint recommendation that was approved by the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibility Review Board and presented to Archbishop Chaput, who decided to restrict Father Paul’s ministry so that he would have no unsupervised contact with minors pending the outcome of the internal archdiocesan investigation that was in progress.
Notification of his restrictions was made to administrators at the parish and the parish school in late 2012. “A monitoring and support plan,” which consists of checks of a priest’s activities by parish and school administrators and officials from the Archdiocese’s Office for Clergy, was implemented since that time.
Nevertheless, Father Paul resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish on Nov. 6, where he had been serving since 2000. “He came to that decision of his own accord during the course of the archdiocesan investigation regarding this alleged abuse,” the archdiocesan statement said.
It added that the priest moved out of the church rectory and into a private residence following his resignation. He received no parish assignment and was not active in his ministry, and “he continued to adhere to his monitoring and support plan” the statement said, with monitoring performed by Office for Clergy officials.
On the heels of Father Paul’s resignation the archdiocese received multiple new allegations that the priest had sexually abused minors over 30 years ago. These allegations were reported to the appropriate district attorney’s office.
Father Paul will remain on administrative leave pending possible action by law enforcement and a full internal investigation.
“In keeping with standing archdiocesan policy, that internal investigation will not proceed until after law enforcement has concluded its process,” the archdiocese’s statement said.
An announcement about Father Paul’s suspension was made Our Lady of Calvary Parish last weekend.
The priest has had the following assignments in parishes and schools: St. Alphonsus, Maple Glen (1972-1974); faculty, Archbishop Kennedy High School (1974-1975); St. Isaac Jogues, Wayne (1974-1975); faculty, Bishop McDevitt High School, Wyncote (1975-1986); faculty, St. James Catholic High School for Boys, Chester (1986-1990); St. Robert, Chester (1986-1990); faculty, Archbishop Kennedy High School (1990-1993); St. Philip Neri, Lafayette Hill (1990-1995); faculty, Kennedy-Kenrick High School, Norristown (1993-1997); faculty, Archbishop Wood High School, Warminster (1997-2000); St. Andrew, Newtown (1997-2000); Our Lady of Calvary, Philadelphia (2000-2013); placed on administrative leave (2013).
The archdiocese encouraged anyone wishing to report an allegation of sexual abuse to contact local law enforcement agency and/or the archdiocesan Office for Investigations at 1-888-930-9010.
To report a violation of “The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries” to contact the archdiocesan Office for Investigations.
The archdiocese said it recognized the public notice may be painful to victims of sexual violence. Victim services are available through the Victim Assistance Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.