|St. Raymond Parish: Archdiocese Names Interim Administrator
By Rick DelVecchio
Catholic San Francisco
June 8, 2011
The Archdiocese of San Francisco named retired Msgr. Harry Schlitt as interim administrator of St. Raymond Parish as the Menlo Park congregation reacted to its pastor’s suspension over an apparent violation of church child-protection norms.
Auxiliary Bishop William Justice announced after June 5 Masses at the parish that Msgr. Schlitt, who retired last year and long served as the archdiocese’s vicar for administration and moderator of the curia, has accepted the post while the archdiocese seeks a new parish leader to replace four-year pastor Father William S. Myers.
Bishop Justice also offered his apologies and those of Archbishop George Niederauer “for what has happened and for the pain and suffering that has resulted.”
In the first of a nine-day series of archdiocesan “support and presence” meetings for St. Raymond parishioners and school students and parents, Bishop Justice also apologized before 200 parish members at a church meeting June 1. People at the meeting expressed anger and grief and demanded to know how Father Myers became a priest, how he advanced to pastor of a school parish and how he was monitored.
One woman rose from her pew to say, “We’re wounded, the church has been wounded.” She said the parish needs to play a role in the selection of a new leader.
Bishop Justice offered additional details of Father Myers’ record at a meeting after 10 a.m. Mass June 5, stressing that no complaints or suspicions about sexual misconduct have been leveled about him during his ministry in the archdiocese. Bishop Justice said there has never been a concern that children at St. Raymond School were at risk.
The archdiocese learned May 26 that the priest had been involved in an incident April 19 involving an encounter with a 17-year-old male in a changing room at a Ross clothing store in San Francisco.
“The police were brought in because there was suspect behavior,” said George Wesolek, communications director for the archdiocese. “The young man said there was no physical contact.”
According to a statement by the archdiocese, the police determined that no criminal act had been committed.
“The case is open and inspectors are conducting follow-up interviews prior to meeting with the district attorney’s office,” San Francisco Police Department Sgt. Michael Andraychak said June 6 in response to an e-mail from Catholic San Francisco.
Archdiocesan officials met with Father Myers May 27, the day after they became aware of the incident. They placed him on administrative leave and referred the matter to the archdiocesan Independent Review Board as an apparent “boundary violation,” a type of inappropriate behavior that falls short of physical sexual abuse but is considered an offense under the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
At the June 1 church meeting, Bishop Justice said Father Myers acknowledged the incident but denied any inappropriate behavior with children in the past.
Interviewed after the June 1 meeting, parishioner Gerard McGuire cautioned against a rush to judgment on Father Myers. McGuire, a parish member for eight months, said his impressions of Father Myers were positive.
McGuire also said he was impressed with the church’s response to the crisis, which he called “tremendously fast.”
The archdiocese announced that any allegations of sexual abuse involving Father William Myers should be directed to the civil authorities and to the archdiocese’s victim assistance coordinator, Barbara Elordi. Her secure phone line is (415) 614-5506 and her e-mail is email@example.com. She is also available to assist with pastoral concerns as a result of this matter.
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