Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput Finds Three Priests Unsuitable for Ministry
April 7, 2013
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has found Monsignor Richard T. Powers, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, not suitable for ministry following a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor that occurred approximately 40 years ago outside the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia also announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has made final decisions in two more cases of priests placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Grand Jury Report. Priests on administrative leave are not permitted to exercise their public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present themselves publicly as priests.
Archbishop Chaput has decided that Father Joseph J. Gallagher and Father Mark S. Gaspar are unsuitable for ministry due to substantiated violations of The Standards of Ministerial Behaviors and Boundaries. They will have no public ministry in the Archdiocese. They do have the right to appeal the decision to the Holy See.
Announcements were made at the parishes where both priests last served when they were placed on administrative leave in March of 2011. Follow up announcements were made at those parishes this weekend regarding the final decisions in their cases. Crisis counselors were made available.
Father Gallagher's and Father Gaspar's cases followed the same procedure as all other cases of priests placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Grand Jury Report. Prior to an investigation conducted by the Multi-Disciplinary Team, the case was submitted to the appropriate local district attorney's office. After being released by the district attorney, an investigation was conducted by the MDT. The results of the investigations were provided to the Archdiocesan Review Board (ARB), now known as the Professional Responsibility Review Board (PRRB), which provided a recommendation to the Archbishop, who made the final decision. This rigorous investigative process involved more than 20 experts in child abuse.
Archbishop Chaput said, "As I've done in the past, I relied closely on the Professional Responsibility Review Board and the Multi-Disciplinary Team during this process. The counsel provided by these experts, who have devoted their careers to combatting sexual abuse, is key to this work. I'm grateful for their efforts. After reviewing all the facts, as well as recommendations from competent external authorities, I made the decisions I feel are right and just."
On May 4, 2012; July 6, 2012 and October 15, 2012 Archbishop Chaput announced resolutions in 15 of the cases of priests on administrative leave. Of the 15, eight priests were found suitable for ministry and seven priests were found unsuitable for ministry. In one additional case, the priest died before a full investigation could be conducted so it was not possible to reach a conclusion. All of those cases followed the same process of review and subsequent release by the district attorney, investigation by the MDT, review by the Archdiocesan Review Board and a final decision by the Archbishop. More information regarding those announcements is available at http://archphila.org/HHHIC/hhhic.php.
With the decision announced today, the Archdiocese will continue the initiative entitled Honesty, Healing and Hope in Christ: Confronting Sexual Violence in Our Archdiocese, which was introduced in May 2012. Once a case is resolved the initiative begins at the parish level and consists of four phases over six months. Its purpose is to address the wide variety of reactions, thoughts and feelings that will be experienced as a result of this announcement and in the days and weeks moving forward. It identifies three primary stakeholders: the victims of the allegation or violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behaviors and Boundaries, the parishioners, who include school and Parish Religious Education Program (PREP) families, and the priests on administrative leave. Through the implementation of this initiative, the Archdiocese continues a journey of honesty, healing and hope toward the restoration of trust.
The remaining 7 administrative leave cases are not being announced today for a variety of reasons. The Archdiocese referred all of its cases to the local district attorney. Four cases have not yet been released by law enforcement so the internal Archdiocesan investigation cannot begin yet. Three cases were released by law enforcement over the past several months. Those cases are either currently under investigation, awaiting examination by the Professional Responsibility Review Board or a final decision by Archbishop Chaput. In one additional case a priest on administrative leave was arrested.
Due to the ongoing process there is no indication as to when the resolutions of the remaining cases will be made, however the Archdiocese intends to announce them as soon as possible.
As part of its efforts to bring this process to a conclusion, the MDT located, gathered and reviewed more than 400,000 pages of relevant documents, identified, located and interviewed 244 witnesses, across the United States and in several foreign countries, and conducted countless site visits to parishes and schools where incidents were alleged to have occurred. Many cases involved a search for additional evidence including yearbooks, parish records, photographs and public documents. Some cases dated as far back in time as 40 years, which posed significant investigative challenges.