|Monsignor, 72, Faces Sex Abuse Allegation
May 10, 2010
An elderly priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who served at 11 parishes and a high school was removed from Stella Maris parish in South Philadelphia last week pending an inquiry into recent allegations that he sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago.
Cardinal Justin Rigali also notified Chester County law enforcement authorities of the allegation against Monsignor George J. Mazzotta, 72, according to archdiocesan spokeswoman Donna Farrell. She said this was the only abuse charge the archdiocese ever received against him.
Mazzotta was a parochial vicar, or assisting priest, at St. Joseph parish in Downington, Chester County, from 1966 to 1971, his first assignment after ordination. He served in the same capacity at Stella Maris, at S. 10th and Bigler Streets.
Pending the investigation, Mazzotta will live at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, the archdiocesan home for retired priests. Farrell said the move did not mean the archdiocese had concluded the allegation was true.
Mazzotta's removal, and the reason for it, were announced at this past Sunday's Masses.
"I was devastated," a parishioner, who asked not to be named, said Monday. "He's a good person."
Most other residents of the rowhouse neighborhood, which flanks the city sports complex, said they did not know Mazzotta.
One man, who said his children attend the parish school, expressed indignation that a victim would wait 40 years to report abuse. A woman who lived nearby voiced concern that if Mazzotta had abused once, he might have had other victims. Both declined to give their names.
The archdiocese provided no particulars on the alleged abuse or the person who made the charge.
Several who had heard the allegation declined comment.
Mazzotta was not among the 63 priests named in a 2005 Philadelphia grand jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese during the previous 50 years. The explosive report led to changes in Pennsylvania law, including the elimination of the statute of limitations for child abuse cases.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a national advocacy group, criticized the archdiocese Monday for not urging victims to contact law enforcement officials.
Rigali "should focus on prodding victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police immediately," the group said. "It's wrong to continue urging people to call church authorities instead of secular authorities."
Following his time in Downington, Mazzotta served at: Epiphany of Our Lord parish in Philadelphia and at St. Maria Goretti High Schoool from 1971 to 1976; St. Gabriel's, Philadelphia, 1976 to 1978; St. Clement's, Philadelphia,1978-1980; St. Eugene, Primos, 1980-1985; St. Paul, Norristown, 1985-1988; Saints Cosmos and Damien, Conshohocken, June-November 1988; St. Robert Bellarmine, Warrington, 1988-1990; Mother of Divine Grace, Philadelphia, 1990-1997; St. Madeline, Ridley Park, 1997-2008.
The archdiocese's victim assistance office, which provides some services to persons affected by sexual abuse, can be reached at 1-888-800-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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