Priest Accused of Molesting Teen Cleared by Vatican
Reverend in Charge of Religious Ed Program at St. Patrick's Church Is Reassigned to St. Patrick's Cathedra

By Leslie Palma-Simoncek
Staten Island Advance
June 7, 2008

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A Catholic priest who was removed from ministry at St. Patrick's Church two years ago following allegations that he molested a 17-year-old boy has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Vatican.

The Rev. Christopher Pliauplis, 59, who was in charge of the religious education program for the Richmond parish, has been reassigned to St. Patrick's Cathedral, and will begin work there July 1, according to his attorney, Mario Gallucci.

"I was never more satisfied with a decision," Gallucci said. "No way did he do what he was accused of."

The decision by the Congregation of the Faith, the Vatican office that has jurisdiction over allegations against priests, ends two years of uncertainty Father Pliauplis, who insisted in 2006 that he was innocent. He declined to speak to the Advance yesterday.

The case began in January 2006 when the teen, one of several high school students who taught classes in the religious ed program, alleged that Father Pliauplis touched him inappropriately as they passed each other in a school hallway.

The archdiocese interviewed the boy and the priest and removed Father Pliauplis from ministry in March 2006. An archdiocesan review board in June of that year recommended that he not be returned to ministry, and that he no longer be permitted to represent himself as a priest.

"They railroaded him," Gallucci said. "Kids are coming forward and saying falsehoods. The archdiocese is not listening to priests, they're just letting them go."

Father Pliauplis retained a canon lawyer -- one trained in the laws of the Catholic church -- and the attorney took the case to Rome, Gallucci said.

"Based on the evidence, and justice, they found this didn't happen," Gallucci said of the Vatican examiners.

Gallucci didn't know how the priest has been supporting himself for the last two years, but described his client as "ecstatic" now.

"He's a great guy and a great priest," he said.

Attempts to reach the attorney who represented the teen and his family in 2006 were unsuccessful.

Leslie Palma-Simoncek is the religion editor for the Advance. She may be reached at Visit her Beyond Beliefs Web log at


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