Ex-Priest Reduced to Lay Status

By David O'Reilly
Philadelphia Inquirer [Philadelphia PA]
November 17, 2006

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced yesterday that the Vatican has laicized one of its former priests, Francis J. Gallagher, for sexually abusing minors. As a result, he may no longer function as a Catholic priest.

Gallagher, who was removed from active ministry in 2002, had requested laicization, according to the archdiocese. He served in four parishes and two high schools of the archdiocese after he was ordained in 1973.

Gallagher was identified in the 2005 Philadelphia grand-jury report on sex abuse in the archdiocese as an example of the archdiocese's mishandling of abusive priests.

After he was arrested in 1989 in Sea Isle City, N.J., for soliciting sex with two young men, "he later admitted to sexually abusing two adolescent brothers," according to the report. Nevertheless, in 1991 he was made a vicar at Immaculate Conception parish in Jenkintown, and in 2000, he was reassigned to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer parish in North Wales.

There are no reports that he abused any children during this time. Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua removed him from ministry in February 2002, days after The Inquirer asked the archdiocese if it any of its priests had abused children.

Gallagher's whereabouts could not be determined yesterday, and he could not be reached for comment.

Gallagher was a teacher at Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield from 1976 to 1989, and taught briefly at Cardinal Dougherty High School in 1989.

He was also a parochial vicar at St. Katharine of Siena parish in Wayne and St. Henry parish in North Philadelphia.



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