Vatican Bars Former Catholic Priest in Lynn from Active Ministry; Had Been Accused of Sexual Abuse in 2012
By Travis Andersen
September 10, 2020
A former longtime priest at a Catholic church in Lynn who’d been accused in 2012 of sexually abusing a child has been banned from exercising “any public ministry” and sentenced by church authorities to a life of prayer and penance, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
In a statement, the archdiocese identified the priest as Rev. James E. Gaudreau and said he’s “not permitted to exercise any public ministry, including not being allowed to celebrate public Mass. He may not provide spiritual direction, may not wear clerical attire and cannot function in any manner as a priest. He is to live in contemplation of his sins and pray for all of those affected by his conduct.”
The allegations against Gaudreau had surfaced in 2012, when the cleric was accused of molesting a child in 2006. But the following year, the Essex district attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges.
Gaudreau had said in a statement shortly after that decision that his “conscience was always clear.” He said he "knew that I was innocent of any wrongdoing. I was also confident that, in time, I would be thoroughly exonerated.”
The district attorney’s office didn’t comment at the time on the reason for declining to file charges. The archdiocese continued its own probe.
On Thursday, Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston archdiocese, said Gaudreau’s case was ultimately heard and adjudicated by the Diocese of Brooklyn. The Vatican decides where such cases will be heard for a variety of reasons such as conflicts of interest or caseloads, Donilon said.
He wrote in an email that Gaudreau’s appeal was “heard and denied by the Vatican Dicastery of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith who oversee sexual abuse of minor matters.”
According to the archdiocese’s statement, he was “found guilty of child abuse [by the Brooklyn diocese] and his sentence has been affirmed by the Vatican to live a life of Prayer and Penance.”
Gaudreau, who’s in his 70s, arrived at Saint Joseph Parish in Lynn in 1984 as the Spanish apostolate for the Lynn area and became the church’s pastor in 1993, officials have said. He was placed on leave in September 2012.
"I thank God and His Blessed Mother for this day of deliverance, and I thank all those parishioners of St. Joseph’s Parish and others who stood by me and prayed for me during this long ordeal,” Gaudreau said in his 2013 statement after prosecutors opted against charging him.
But the Boston archdiocese, citing the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in Thursday’s statement that since Gaudreau was found guilty by church authorities, “he is forbidden from all public ministry and from otherwise presenting himself as a priest. He is expected to dedicate his life to praying for victims and repenting of his past offenses. In this way, the Church seeks even here to prevent any future abuse and to repair the injustice that has already taken place.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, leader of the Boston archdiocese, encourages anyone needing pastoral assistance or support to contact the Archdiocese’s Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach by calling 617-746-5985, the statement said. The office provides resources to victims including counseling.