Vatican Grants Man's Priesthood Removal Request

Delaware County Times [Pennsylvania]
March 9, 2007

Officials at the Vatican have granted the request for removal from the priesthood of a man who formerly served as assistant pastor at St. Joseph Church in Aston. James M. Iannarella, already removed from active ministry because of alleged sexual misconduct with a minor, served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from May 1996 to October 1999. During that time he was assistant pastor at St. Joseph's and ordinary confessor for the Sisters of St. Francis at their Assisi House retirement facility in Aston.

Archdiocesan officials said he was removed from active ministry "because of known sexual misconduct involving a minor." They said Iannarella sought removal from the clerical state and, with the Holy See's ruling, can no longer function as a priest.

Iannarella was among 43 priests with Delaware County connections out of 63 mentioned in a September 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on clerical sexual abuse. None could be prosecuted because the Pennsylvania statute of limitations had expired.

Iannarella allegedly had sexual relations with a 17-year-old female from May to August 1999, while serving as parochial vicar at St. Joseph's, where he was assigned in 1996. He was placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese in October 1999, and left active ministry Sept. 24, 2003.

According to the grand jury report, Iannarella underwent a psychological evaluation at St. John Vianney Hospital and was scheduled to undergo outpatient treatment there after his evaluation was completed.

Iannarella reportedly served as an assistant vice president of government and community relations at Drexel University in Philadelphia from 2001 until the fall of 2005.

"He did submit his resignation and the university did accept it and we're not going to go beyond that," university spokesman Philip Terranova said in October 2005.

A 1990 graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Iannarella attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood and was ordained by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua May 18, 1996.

He is among at least nine other men with Delaware County connections who have been defrocked since 2005. All had credible allegations of sexual misconduct with children against them, according to archdiocesan officials.

They include Edward V. Avery, Stanley M. Gana, James E. McGuire, Raymond Leneweaver, John Delli Carpini, Thomas J. Durkin, Richard G. Jones, Thomas M. Kohler and Francis X. Trauger.

Archdiocesan officials now report allegations of clerical sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities in accordance with the 2002 U.S. Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.


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