Parents Claim Damages from Catholic Church for Loss of Faith

By Mount Holly
United Press International
March 4, 1993

Four Roman Catholic families in South Jersey whose daughters were allegedly molested by a priest have sued the church, claiming that they were deceived and that the experience caused them to lose faith.

The families were members of St. Mary of the Lakes Church in Medford. The former pastor, the Rev. Florencia Pineda Tumang, 70, was charged last year with fondling one of the girls and is now a fugitive.

Three of the families claim that they told Tumang's superiors in 1990 that he had molested their daughters. They said the church did nothing, allowing a fourth girl to become a victim.

The church has been sued several times recently by parents seeking damages for sexual assaults by priests. But the suit filed in Burlington County has a twist -- the claim of loss of faith and denial of the chance for salvation.

"The church was founded by Christ to bring all people to eternal salvation," court papers said. "There is no salvation outside the church."

The defendants named in the suit include the diocese of Trenton, St. Mary's parish, Tumang, and several diocesan officials, including Bishop John Reiss.

Tumang is believed to be in the Philippines.

Joseph DeLorenzo Jr., lawyer for the families, says he will not comment on the case until the defendants have been served with notice of the suit.


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