Priest Serving in Boston Put on Leave after Arrest on Child Porn Charge

U.S. Catholic
August 2, 2012

The Boston Archdiocese placed a Franciscan priest on administrative leave from his pastoral duties following his arrest on child pornography charges that involved the use of a computer located in the parish rectory.

Father Andrzej Urbaniak, a Conventual Franciscan who serves at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, was arrested July 31 and charged with possessing and distributing child pornography. At his arraignment the next day, he pleaded not guilty.

"The provincial superior of his religious order in Poland has been informed of the matter. Father Urbaniak's faculties have been suspended and he is not allowed to function as a priest in the archdiocese," said a statement released Aug. 1 by Boston church officials.

The archdiocese said it is "fully cooperating with law enforcement."

"The church prays for all those impacted by these events and is committed to providing for the pastoral care of the parish during this difficult time," the statement added.

According to the Boston Globe daily newspaper, Boston police had been investigating Father Urbaniak for two months. It quoted the prosecutor in the case as saying at Father Urbaniak's arraignment the priest "was downloading and sending sexual images of children" when police entered his rectory to arrest him on pornography charges. Most of the children in the photos were between ages 8 and 10, the paper said.

Father Urbaniak, 41, came to the U.S. from his native Poland about 14 years ago and for the past four years has been at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, which serves Polish Catholics in the Boston Archdiocese.

In Missouri, Father Shawn Ratigan, a former pastor in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph who is in federal custody, was expected to plead guilty in federal court Aug. 2 to charges of child pornography. He faces 13 federal counts of possessing, producing and attempting to produce child pornography; the state also has charged him with possessing child pornography.

The charges stem from the discovery of child pornography in December 2010 on a church computer he used. Father Ratigan was arrested in May 2011.

The Philadelphia Archdiocese in a July 27 statement confirmed that Father Andrew D. McCormick, who was on administrative leave, was arrested a day earlier on several charges related to sexual misconduct.

Father McCormick, 56, was one of a number of priests placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese in March 2011 "in response to concerns noted in the grand jury report issued last February," the archdiocese said.

"The cases of those placed on leave at that time ranged from allegations of sexual abuse to boundary issues with minors," it continued. "Since that time Father McCormick has not been permitted to exercise his public ministry, administer any of the sacraments, or present himself publicly as a priest."

The priest has been charged with "involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, corrupting the morals of a minor, indecent assault, and indecent exposure," the archdiocesan statement said.

According to law enforcement officials, Father McCormick's arrest is related to an allegation they received last December. "This is a new allegation to the archdiocese," the statement said.

Father McCormick was ordained in 1982 and has served four-year parish assignments at four parishes in his time as a priest.








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