Archdiocese Seeking to Remove a Priest

By David O'Reilly
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 23, 2006

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced it is seeking to permanently remove the Rev. John H. Mulholland from priesthood after finding credible evidence that he sexually abused a minor in the mid-1970s.

Mulholland was removed from active ministry in September 2005, soon after a Philadelphia grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in the archdiocese reported that Mulholland had a history of sadomasochistic activity with teenage boys in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

His case now goes before the Vatican, which can decide to laicize him.

Donna Farrell, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, could not immediately confirm yesterday whether Mulholland had admitted having sexual contact with a minor.

Mulholland's whereabouts could not be determined yesterday.

In 2004, the archdiocese opened its own investigation into Mulholland. It concluded that although several letters he wrote in 1968 describing acts of bondage and submission were "quite disturbing," it had no evidence he had engaged in sexual abuse.

He was kept on as a chaplain at a nursing home until the grand jury report of September 2005.

Weeks after the report, however, the archdiocese "received an allegation dating back to the mid-1970s that Father Mulholland had sexually abused a minor."

In a statement released this week, the archdiocese said it immediately reported the allegation to civil authorities and began its own investigation.

The statement said also that the Archdiocesan Review Board had recently advised Cardinal Justin Rigali that there was sufficient cause to recommend Mulholland's removal from priesthood.

Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 215-854-5723 or


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