Pastor Resigns Following Sex-Abuse Allegations

By Sulaiman a Bdur-Rahman
The Philadelphia Inquirer
November 10, 2013

A pastor of a Northeast Philadelphia Catholic church who was accused of sexually abusing children 45 years ago - and not charged with any offenses after a recent investigation into the allegations - has resigned, according to parish officials.

The Rev. John P. Paul, pastor of Our Lady of Calvary since June 2000, has moved out of the parish rectory, according to a memo posted on the parish school's website.

"As a result of the extreme emotional duress experienced by Father Paul while the allegations were being investigated, and out of heartfelt concern for the families of OLC, Father Paul voluntarily resigned as Pastor so that the best interest of the parish could be served," said the memo, signed by Sister Mildred Chesnavage and Jeanne Costello, school administrators.

Paul's resignation also was announced at each Mass at the Knights Road church over the weekend.

Paul, 67, is not retiring at the Villa St. Joseph priest residence in Darby, according to Kenneth A. Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The archdiocese will continue to monitor him while an internal investigation seeks to determine whether he is suitable to continue serving as a priest, Gavin said.

Paul was ordained in 1972. Two allegations against him accuse of him of sexually abusing minors when he was at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary studying to become a priest, Gavin said.

The archdiocese was made aware of the accusations against Paul earlier this year and immediately alerted law-enforcement officials, who, after investigating, declined to file charges against him, according to the church memo.

"These allegations involved no member of OLC either 45 years ago or since," said the memo, which also asserted that the parish was and "continues to be a safe and welcoming environment."

Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams, said the office does not comment on investigations unless charges are filed. In this case, if the sexual-abuse allegations are from 45 years ago, the statute of limitations has run out, Jamerson said.

After the allegations surfaced this year, the archdiocese allowed Paul to remain at the parish with restrictions that prohibited him from having unsupervised contact with minors, Gavin said.

The archdiocese has assigned the Rev. John Babowitch, pastor of the St. Barnabas Parish in Southwest Philadelphia, to be Our Lady of Calvary's new pastor effective Dec. 2.



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