Apologizes for Lowell Pastor's Criticism of Abuse Allegations
By Lisa Redmond and Robert Mills
December 19, 2010
LOWELL -- On Dec. 11, Monsignor Stanislaw Kempa stood at the pulpit at
Holy Trinity Church and called several unidentified men "cowards" for
accusing the church's former pastor of abusing them decades ago.
Yesterday afternoon, a high-ranking bishop with the Archdiocese of Boston
was sent to the parish to read a letter of personal apology from Cardinal
Bishop Peter Uglietto celebrated Mass in place of pastor Kempa in the
church at 340 High St., reading the letter aloud before about 50 parishioners.
He said O'Malley wished to read the letter himself but was unable to attend.
"I want to express my deepest apology to all that the pulpit, a place
reserved for the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God, was used
as a platform for harmful words to be expressed against members of this
parish," O'Malley wrote in the letter, copies of which were handed out
to each parishioner.
O'Malley wrote the letter after Kempa took to the pulpit on Dec. 11 and
lashed out at three men, now in their 30s, who accused the late Rev. Czeslaw
"Father Chet" Szymanski of sexually abusing them.
Attorney Carmen Durso, who represents the three men, announced the abuse
allegations at a press conference on Dec. 9.
Kempa addressed his congregation during Mass two days later and blasted
Yesterday, Durso said Kempa "inappropriately expressed his personal beliefs
at Mass that the three (alleged) victims were cowards and their accusations
were not credible."
"The clerical antagonism and apparent indifference toward victims of sexual
abuse, even when faced with substantial evidence, is one of the principal
reasons why it remains so difficult for victims to come forward," Durso
said. "It is for this reason why these young men have chose not to use
their actual names."
Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, yesterday called Kempa's
actions "unauthorized and unacceptable."
Donilon said Kempa has met with his superiors in the archdiocese and "has
taken responsibility for his hurtful actions."
Donilon said Kempa has not been reassigned, but that "the archdiocese
continues to work with Monsignor Kempa to address this matter."
Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will
"work to resolve" the claims against Szymanski "in accordance with its
policies. The archdiocese has offered counseling to the individuals who
have come forward and will proceed in a manner that is just and respectful
of survivors' pastoral needs."
O'Malley went a step further yesterday in responding to Kempa's comments,
sending the regional vicar, the Rev. Arthur Coyle, and Barbara Thorp,
director of the archdiocese's office of pastoral support and outreach,
to the church along with Uglietto.
O'Malley's letter informed the congregation that Thorp would be on hand
after Mass to help anyone with concerns related to the allegations. His
letter also provided her phone number and e-mail address.
After Durso's Dec. 9 press conference, the archdiocese acknowledged that
another person had previously made a complaint against Szymanski.
Since the press conference, Durso said three additional unidentified alleged
victims have contacted him to say they also were sexually assaulted by
While he was not a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston -- he was ordained
in Poland by the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit -- Szymanski served
as associate pastor at Holy Trinity Parish from 1981 until he was reassigned
in April 1987. He was killed in a car accident on Sept. 24, 1987, in Albany,
N.Y. He was 45.
Szymanski was never charged in connection with these allegations.
Parishioners at Holy Trinity expressed support for Kempa after Mass yesterday,
though none agreed to provide their names.
"He's a good man," said one woman as she walked to her car.
An elderly couple, who said they have attended the church for decades,
also described Kempa as a good man who helped the church stave off closure.
They said they support Kempa, and hope to see him back in the parish.
Lisa Redmond can be reached at email@example.com.
Robert Mills can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.