Church Probes Pastor Clergyman Serves at St. Valentine's

By Marla A. Goldberg
The Union-News
October 18, 1994

Polish National Catholic Church Prime Bishop John Swantek said yesterday that an investigation has begun into the conduct of the Rev. Julian S. Pagacz, pastor of St. Valentine's Church. Swantek said the matter was reviewed by the Supreme Council meeting in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday and "we're gathering all the facts." Swantek, who is chairman of the Supreme Council, said he did not wish to make any further comments "until the investigation is complete."

The investigation comes in response to a letter to the council from a church member.

No comment

Swantek, of Scranton, Pa., would not comment on how the investigation is being conducted, and said he did not know when the council will discuss the matter again. He said this is the first time the council has reviewed the situation.

Pagacz could not be reached yesterday.

In May 1992, Pagacz submitted to facts sufficient to warrant a finding of guilty on one charge of indecent assault and battery on a 16-year old girl. The charge was continued for one year without a finding. Soon after, he was dismissed as part-time pastor of Holy Mother of the Rosary in Chicopee.

Charged with rape

Pagacz was initially charged with rape and indecent assault of a 16-year old girl, and indecent assault and battery of a 17-year old girl. The girls recanted their allegations, though the 17-year old later withdrew her recantation.

St. Valentine's members have said that membership has dropped at church in the last two years, and member Christine Newman has said Swantek urged her to write the letter she sent to Supreme Council Secretary Julius Nagy, asking that the "St. Valentine's Parish (Northampton, MA) problem" be on the agenda of the General Synod of the Polish National Catholic Church held last week in Buffalo, N.Y.

Thaddeus Peplowski, bishop of the church's Buffalo-Pittsburgh diocese, has said the council chose to schedule another meeting to deal with the complaints.

In her letter to Nagy, Newman said 29 parishioners journeyed to Scranton in August to meet with Swantek.

The Polish National Catholic Church of America was founded in 1897. It allows clergy to marry and does not recognize the pope.

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