Former St. James priest tossed from ministry for molesting
17-year old in 1970s
By Patti Mengers
February 23, 2014
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput announced Sunday a
priest who once taught at the former St. James Catholic High
School for Boys in Chester is unsuitable for ministry because of
a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.
The Rev. John P. Paul, who taught at St. James and was on
staff at the old St. Robert’s parish in Chester from 1986
to 1990, was removed from ministry because of a substantiated
allegation that he sexually abused a 17-year-old more than 40
years ago when he was a seminarian, according to a press release
from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was ordained in 1972.
Archdiocesan officials said that they had referred the
67-year-old priest’s case to law enforcement authorities
who, after a lengthy investigation, declined to prosecute.
However, last Nov. 6, Paul was placed on administrative leave
after he voluntarily resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary
Church in Philadelphia where he had served since 2000.
In a press release last December, archdiocesan officials
said that subsequent to Paul’s suspension “the
archdiocese received multiple, new allegations that Father Paul
had sexually abused minors over 30 years ago. These allegations
were reported to the appropriate district attorney’s
In addition to St. James High School in Chester, Paul also
had taught at Archbishop Kennedy-Kenrick and Bishop McDevitt
high schools, both in Montgomery County, and was on staff at
parishes in Montgomery, Chester, Bucks and Philadelphia
counties. At last report, he was living in a private residence.
Chaput also announced on Sunday that the Rev. James J.
Collins was found by archdiocesan officials to be unsuitable for
ministry following a substantiated allegation that he sexually
abused a 17-year-old more than 40 years ago. The 75-year-old
priest, who was ordained in 1964, was placed on administrative
leave in May 2013. Archdiocesan officials did not say on Sunday
where he is now residing.
Collins had retired from teaching at Holy Family
University in Philadelphia in early 2013 and was last in
residence at St. Martha Parish in Philadelphia. He also formerly
taught at Roman Catholic High School for Boys and Cardinal
Dougherty High School, both in Philadelphia, and served at
several Philadelphia parishes.
Archdiocesan officials noted that Paul’s and
Collins’ cases are not connected and neither were part of
the group of more than 20 priests placed on administrative leave
following the February 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report on
clerical sexual abuse of minors.
Allegations against both priests were referred to law
enforcement authorities who declined to prosecute, according to
archdiocesan officials. Their cases were then referred to the
Archdiocesan Professional Responsibility Review Board, a panel
of 12 men and women with backgrounds in investigation and child
sexual abuse treatment, who recommended removing both Paul and
Collins from public ministry.
Neither priest is permitted to have a public ministry in
the Archdiocese of Philadelphia according to archdiocesan
officials who said the men have the right to appeal the decision
to the Vatican.
“If they do not appeal or if an appeal is
unsuccessful, they could be laicized — removed from the
clerical state — or live a life of prayer and
penance,” said archdiocesan officials in a press release