In S. Philly, Sadness over Priest News

By Julie Shaw
Philadelphia Daily News
May 21, 2012

PARISHIONERS of Stella Maris Parish in South Philly expressed sadness on Sunday after hearing the news at Mass over the weekend Msgr. George Mazzotta, who served there from 2008 to 2010, did indeed sexually abuse a minor more than 42 years ago.

"I feel bad for the victim," said one woman, who wanted to be identified only by her first initial and last name, R. Young. "I feel bad because he [Mazzotta] was a sick man. He should have been helped a long time ago."

Young, 69, said she heard the news at the 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday. She was "more surprised" when the allegation about Mazzotta arose two years ago.

"I feel bad for the victim, because if it was my own child, I would want to hit him [Mazzotta]," she said. "I just would have liked to slap his face."

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced in May 2010 that Mazzotta had been recently accused of the abuse. He was removed as parochial vicar, or assisting priest, at Stella Maris, at 10th and Bigler streets.

On Sunday, the Archdiocese announced that the allegation of sexual abuse against Mazzotta, 73, had been substantiated.

It said that Msgr. Hugh Campbell, who has retired, also has been found unsuitable for ministry. Campbell, 77, last served at Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish in West Chester from 1986 to 2007. In December, he self-reported his sexual abuse of a minor. A source said the abuse occurred about 40 years ago.

Mazzotta served at 11 parishes in 45 years as an active priest. His first parish was St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, Chester County, from 1966 to 1971.

Donna Farrell, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese, said on Sunday that she could not reveal any details of Mazzotta's or Campbell's abuse cases the year the abuse occurred, the gender or age of the victim, or the parish where each priest was serving at the time.

She previously had said the allegation against Mazzotta was reported to the Chester County District Attorney's Office. Given that Mazzotta abused his victim more than 42 years ago and the report was made in Chester County, it is likely that his abuse occurred when he was at St. Joseph.

Mazzotta's and Campbell's cases are not related to the Archdiocese's announcement May 4 that five priests were removed from active ministry for sexual abuse or misconduct with minors following a February 2011 grand-jury report. Their cases also are not related to the ongoing Philadelphia Common Pleas Court clergy sex-abuse trial.

Another Stella Maris parishioner, who is 80 and who did not want to give her name, said Sunday that she was shocked two years ago when the claim arose about Mazzotta. She learned the latest news at Mass on Saturday. "It is a very sad thing," she said.

Mazzotta is living at Villa Saint Joseph, in Darby, as part of the Archdiocese's Prayer and Penance Program, which provides treatment of priests who have sexually abused a minor.

Campbell was ordained in 1961 and served at six parishes or schools in Delaware and Chester counties until his retirement in 2007. He also has agreed to accept a life of prayer and penance. Farrell said she did not know where he was being supervised. n



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