Rev. Bagley Is Removed from Post
Grafton Pastor Accused of Sexual Misconduct
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
February 21, 2002
Worcester — The Rev. John J. Bagley, former chancellor for the Catholic Diocese of Worcester and a former official at the Vatican, was removed from his pastorship at St. Mary's parish in North Grafton yesterday because of an allegation involving sexual misconduct with a minor.
Rev. Bagley was officially placed on administrative leave by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly. Diocesan spokesman Raymond L. Delisle said Rev. Bagley left the parish yesterday, adding that he did not know where the priest went.
Rev. Bagley most recently headed the diocesan Office of the Millennium and oversaw publication of a history of the Worcester Diocese.
Bishop Reilly said the alleged sexual misconduct with a minor occurred in 1967.
"The person making the allegation called Monsignor Tinsley last Thursday and I made myself available to him by phone,' the bishop said yesterday. Rev. Bagley was assigned to Christ the King parish from 1961 to 1967.
The bishop said he learned in this conversation with the man that the late Bishop Timothy J. Harrington was told of the sexual misconduct in 1994 "but that was as far as either party had taken it." Rev. Bagley in 1994 was reassigned by Bishop Harrington from Our Lady of the Angels parish in the city to the North Grafton parish.
Speaking of the alleged victim, the bishop said, "Although he is relieved by our response, he is undecided if he will bring this to the district attorney. If he chooses to do so, we will cooperate fully with the DA's office in their investigation of the allegation."
District Attorney John J. Conte last week asked the diocese to turn over the names of all priests accused of sexual misconduct and the names of their victims. He said Tuesday that he had not yet heard from the diocese on whether it will comply. Mr. Delisle said the diocese and the district attorney's office are discussing what kind of information is needed.
Mr. Delisle, after speaking with Monsignor F. Stephen Pedone, judicial vicar for the diocese, said the allegation about Rev. Bagley will not be reported to the Vatican under new norms issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which can decide to hold secret tribunals in Rome or in the diocese.
Mr. Delisle said the diocese is complying with civil and criminal laws of Massachusetts, not the Vatican's new rule. He said the Vatican statement refers more to religious orders than to individual dioceses.
In the meantime, the bishop is acting to see that the needs of St. Mary's parishioners are met.
Deacon Nicholas CaraDonna Jr., who is in full-time ministry at St. Mary's, will oversee administration of the parish, the bishop said. Monsignor Edmond T. Tinsley will preside at all Masses this weekend and will be available to parishioners "to express my concern and the support of the diocese," Bishop Reilly said.
"I will also be conferring with Deacon CaraDonna and other parish leaders to determine what more assistance is needed by the parish.
"These are difficult times for many people, including the person making the allegation and the person's family, as well as the entire St. Mary's parish family which Father Bagley has served as pastor for eight years," the bishop added.
"As we continue to deal with this allegation, I ask for your prayers and support for all those who have faced upheaval in their lives due to child abuse and for all who continue to work towards the protection and well-being of children," the bishop said.
Rev. Bagley, a native of Leominster, entered seminary in 1956 and studied one year at St. John's in Brighton. He then was assigned by the late Bishop John J. Wright to study at the North American College in Rome.
He was ordained there on Dec. 18, 1960. He returned from Rome and was assigned to St. Mary's parish in Uxbridge before moving to Christ the King in Worcester. He later was assigned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish.
In 1971, Rev. Bagley, then 37, was appointed director of the Bishop's Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican and in 1972 was named to head the Papal Audience office for American bishops in Rome. He also served as assistant superior of the graduate house of studies at North American College.
After returning to Worcester in 1973, he was appointed assistant chancellor for the diocese and became vocations director in 1974. With then-Auxiliary Bishop Timothy J. Harrington, he served as co-chancellor in 1980. He was assigned to pastorate at Our Lady of the Angels parish in 1984.
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