Uxbridge Priest Admits Misconduct, Church Says

By David Abel
Boston Globe
November 20, 2006

A 58-year-old priest who has served as pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Uxbridge for six years was placed on administrative leave during the weekend after admitting "inappropriate sexual behavior" with a minor more than 30 years ago, before he took his vows, church officials said yesterday.

Father Paul J. Doherty , who was ordained at the Diocese of Worcester in 1995, was relieved of duty after confessing to Bishop Robert J. McManus during a meeting on Friday that Doherty had requested at the bishop's residence in Worcester. It was not clear yesterday what prompted Doherty to request the meeting.

Raymond Delisle , a spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester, said the church has referred the matter to the Worcester district attorney's office. Officials at the district attorney's office could not be reached last night.

Delisle said he did not know when or where the alleged crime occurred, but he said the church is moving to strip Doherty of his powers as a priest permanently.

"No one has yet come to the diocese with a complaint," Delisle said.

After removing Doherty from his post, McManus broke the news to parishioners during the weekend.

"I come before you . . . with a saddened heart to announce that I have placed Father Paul Doherty on administrative leave, so as to undergo spiritual and psychological treatment," he said, according to a statement. "Father [Doherty] confided to me that he had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor more than 30 years ago. Because of the serious nature of this admission, I had to relieve Father of his duties as pastor of the parish and to remove his faculties as a priest."

Doherty could not be reached last night.

Before becoming pastor at St. Mary's in 2000, Doherty served as associate pastor at St. Patrick in Whitinsville and St. Mary in Shrewsbury , Delisle said. He did not know what Doherty did before becoming a priest.

Delisle said Father John Kelley , a senior priest at St. Mary's, would take over Doherty's duties.

Reached at the parish last night, Kelley declined to speak about Doherty, who is no longer living in a church residence.

One parishioner told reporters Doherty should be forgiven like any other repentant sinner.

In his statement, McManus asked parishioners to pray for the priest and his alleged victim.

"I ask that you join me in prayer for the parish and school communities, as well as for those who have been hurt in any way by sexual misconduct," the bishop said.


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