Dover Monsignor Steps down to Deal with 'Legal Matter'
Church Officials Say Issue Occurred 25 Years Ago in a Different State
By Abbott Koloff
Daily Record (Morristown, NJ)
May 18, 2004
DOVER — The pastor of Sacred Heart Church has resigned to take care of legal matters that date back 25 years, church officials said Monday in a vaguely worded news release.
Monsignor Ronald Tully, who has been at Sacred Heart for many years, was not present over the weekend when his former parishioners were told during Mass that he would no longer be their priest.
The parishioners were given a statement similar to one released Monday by the Paterson Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
"Msgr. Ronald Tully was required to resign as pastor due to a legal matter dating back some 25 years," the statement said. "That matter has resurfaced and is going to require his full attention."
Parishioners who attended services over the weekend said they were not told why Tully had to resign.
"We were very sad," said Dolores Diaz of Mine Hill. "There was crying. There was shock, disbelief and sadness. We want him back. They (church officials) haven't told us anything."
She said that she doesn't believe Tully could have done anything wrong, saying he has always seemed "impeccable" to her.
Diocese officials have removed priests for various reasons over the past two years — some for abusing children and others for less serious offenses.
They would not say anything about the reason for Tully's sudden resignation. They would not say whether he will be allowed to continue to represent himself as a priest.
Church officials said Tully's legal issues are related to something that happened in another state.
"I have nothing more to say," said Marianna Thompson, a spokeswoman for the diocese.
Church officials said in a statement that Father Joseph Farias will take over as pastor of the parish. Farias did not return a phone call Monday and Tully was unavailable for comment.
In an unrelated case, church officials also said Monday that officials in Rome have decided that a church trial should be held for a former East Hanover priest accused of misconduct with minors.
Monsignor William McCarthy, former pastor of St. Rose of Lima, said in an interview last year that he was innocent of any misconduct and that the charges had been made by someone who was out to get him. Church officials made the allegations public only after McCarthy sent letters, in which he denied allegations, to East Hanover residents.
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