McCormack Banned Priest from N.H. after Abuse Allegations in May

Associated Press State & Local Wire
August 16, 2002

Manchester, NH - A Roman Catholic priest was removed from the Diocese of Manchester three months ago because of sexual abuse allegations dating from 16 years ago in New York.

Church officials explained the Rev. Gabriel Massaro's sudden departure in a letter to parishioners at the Manchester church where he had been staying since 1999.

But until Thursday, when the Long Island newspaper, Newsday, ran a story about the allegations, the diocese had not spoken publicly about the decision.

"In retrospect, it might have been something we could have talked about," said Pat McGee, spokesman for the diocese.

Massaro, a Capuchin Friar, had lived at the Blessed Sacrament parish until May. McGee said there were no allegations against the friar in New Hampshire.

The 62-year-old priest, a member of Franciscan religious order, spent the last two decades preaching at retreats in New York. He's accused of molesting several boys in that state.

Colleen Roche, spokeswoman for Massaro's order, said she did not know whether Massaro had held any youth retreats in New Hampshire. She said the order had received no complaints about him from the state.

Because Massaro is a member of a religious order, he will remain a priest even though he no longer can serve as one publicly in New York or New Hampshire.

Order priests, whose superiors report directly to Rome, do not come under the policy adopted by the nations bishops in June. About one-third of the nation's priests are members of religious orders.

New York Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Swilling said the Capuchins were notified about the allegations, and the order withdrew his right to minister.

The order then informed McCormack that the priest was staying in New Hampshire. The bishop gave Massaro a week to leave the rectory.

Massaro is the founder of the Youth Ministry program for the Northeast province of the Capuchins, which covers New York and New England and has about 165 priests.

The Youth Ministry gave an annual "Fr. Gabriel Massaro Award" to adults involved in parish youth programs. The order said the award will be renamed.



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