Diocese Defrocks 3 More Priests
One of Them Was Said by Last Year's Phila. Grand Jury to Have Abused " Countless Children
By Mitch Lipka
April 7, 2006
Three more Catholic priests who sexually abused boys have been removed from the clergy, including one said to have molested "countless children" for years, bringing to 17 the number of Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests defrocked in the church sex scandal.
As is the tradition of such announcements, notice of the defrockings appeared deep inside yesterday's issue of the archdiocese's newspaper, the Catholic Standard & Times.
Although defrocking - the demotion of a priest to lay status - is the most severe action the church can take against one of its clergy, the growing list is of little consolation to a group of abuse survivors.
"This does nothing to address the broader issue that they broke the law and they escaped prosecution because the statute of limitations is so short," said John Salveson, a leader of the national advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and Other Clergy.
Because the crimes cannot be prosecuted, he said, Megan's Law notifications do not apply and, now that the former priests are outside church control, they are free to move about as they please.
"They'll go God knows where," Salveson said. "This is the church washing its hands."
Donna Farrell, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said she had no comment on the defrockings other than to allow the actions to speak for themselves.
The three defrocked priests - Edward V. Avery, Stanley M. Gana and James E. McGuire - were named in a lengthy grand jury report issued in September that identified 63 archdiocesan priests as abusers.
(The archdiocese considers 56 as having been under its control. Of those, 17 have been defrocked - one of whom has since died; 10 others are dead; one is in prison; 20 have had their ministries restricted; and seven have cases pending with the Vatican. One priest cannot be found.)
Avery, Gana and McGuire, each of whom became a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1970, are the most recent to have been defrocked by the Vatican. They had been stripped of their ministries in 2002 and 2003 as a result of the investigation into sexual abuse.
Gana, at one time a chaplain for the Boy Scouts of America, had so many victims that the grand jury could characterize the number only as "countless."
Msgr. William J. Lynn, an archdiocesan official, told a seminarian who had lodged a complaint against Gana that the priest had not only abused children but also slept with women, stolen church money, and abused alcohol. "You see," Lynn was quoted in the grand jury report as saying, "he's not a pure pedophile."
Gana's assaults occurred while serving parishes during the 1970s and 1980s, the grand jury found. Some of the assaults, witnesses told the grand jury, took place in churches and rectories, on a trip to Walt Disney World, and at the priest's farm in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Among Gana's assignments were Ascension of Our Lord, Immaculate Conception, and Our Lady of Calvary churches in Philadelphia and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Feasterville.
One of Gana's victims said he could not understand why Gana was not defrocked years ago. "My question would be: What took you so long?" Robert Karpinski, 39, of Chicago, said yesterday. "There's a definite sense in my mind that this should have happened years ago."
Karpinski, who was abused by Gana for years beginning at age 12, noted that the church, while defrocking other abusers, initially allowed Gana to remain a priest. After being removed from "active ministry" in 2002, he was permitted to live at a church facility in Darby.
While Karpinski said he welcomed the church's latest action, he had mixed feelings about it.
"Laicization removes him from the clerical state, but it also removes the obligation that the church has. If he did something tomorrow or touched someone [in an inappropriate way], the church isn't responsible for him."
McGuire was found by the grand jury to have molested at least three boys, starting from when he was a seminarian in 1966. While on the faculty of Bishop Kenrick High School in Norristown, he abused a 15-year-old, the grand jury concluded. Another instance occurred with a 14-year-old in 1971.
After the diocese was notified in 1985, McGuire underwent outpatient evaluation but remained principal of St. Pius X High School in Pottstown.
Avery abused a 12-year-old boy in the late 1970s while assigned to St. Philip Neri Church in Montgomery County, according to the grand jury report. After church officials received a complaint about the abuse in 1992, he was placed on leave for four months and sent to Nazareth Hospital for a decade as its chaplain.
It was unclear yesterday where Avery, McGuire and Gana are now residing.
Last month, the archdiocese announced that three other priests were defrocked in connection with the scandal:
William L. Santry, who was ordained in 1956, was accused of sexually abusing a minor. He served St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Norristown and was on the faculty of Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia from 1959 to 1968. He voluntarily left the priesthood in 1971.
Msgr. Charles J. Schaeflein - who spent 25 years in archdiocesan high schools and 12 as pastor of St. Andrew parish in Newtown - has agreed to a "supervised life of prayer and penance" at Villa St. Joseph in Darby. He was 86 in the fall when allegations against him surfaced.
The Rev. Michael J. Donofrio, who served at Queen of the Universe Parish in Levittown and was an associate director of the Lower Bucks County Catholic Youth Organization, has had his case referred to the Vatican. He cannot be located by the church.
Read the grand jury report on priest abuse, including parish-by-parish listings, along with previous coverage at http://go.philly.com/priests
CorrectionA story in Friday's Inquirer incorrectly reported that three priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese had been defrocked in March. As the story later explained, one was defrocked, another agreed to a life of prayer and penance, and the case of the third was sent to the Vatican for review.
Contact staff writer Mitch Lipka at 215-854-5334 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Inquirer staff writer Nancy Phillips contributed to this article.
CORRECTION-DATE: April 7, 2006
A story in Friday's Inquirer incorrectly reported that three priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese had been defrocked in March. As the story later explained, one was defrocked, another agreed to a life of prayer and penance, and the case of the third was sent to the Vatican for review.
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