Suspended Priest Case Forwarded to Vatican

By Hartriono B. Sastrowardoyo
Asbury Park Press
October 3, 2007

LITTLE EGG HARBOR — John M. Smith, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, and members of his staff met in a closed session with parishioners at St. Theresa's Church to discuss the suspension of their pastor from the ministry.

The visit was in response to allegations made public Saturday that the Rev. Terence O. McAlinden "was involved in sexual misconduct with a minor in the mid-1980s," according to a statement from the diocese.

The 2 1/2-hour meeting was not open to the public but only to St. Theresa parish-ioners.

Those who left the session early declined to comment other than to say that a large number of parishioners had attended.

Because of the allegation, from an unidentified person now in his mid-30s, McAlinden cannot "publicly celebrate Mass, exercise his priestly ministry, wear clerical garb or present himself as a priest in the Diocese of Trenton or anywhere," according to the diocese.

"He's on administrative leave, with his priestly faculties suspended," said Rayanne Bennett, diocese spokeswoman, with no timetable as to how long that leave will be.

The case is to be referred to the Vatican, where church officials will advise the diocese as to what course of action to take, Bennett said.

Bennett said no new allegations have been made.

No future meetings between diocese officials and the parish are planned, Bennett said, but parishioners would be notified if one is scheduled.

McAlinden had served as pastor at the church on Radio Road since July 1, 1988, according to the parish Web site. Prior to that he had served as director of the Trenton Diocese's Office of Youth Ministry, Bennett said.



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