Statement about Priest Clarified by Local Official

By James Draper
Longview News-Journal
May 18, 2005

The promoter of justice for the Diocese of Tyler on Tuesday clarified recent allegations against Monsignor John Flynn, former pastor of St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Longview.

The Rev. Gavin Vaverek of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Longview said Bishop Alvarro Corrada placed Flynn on administrative leave Friday after receiving a new allegation of sexual impropriety by Flynn several decades ago when he was a priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

"The allegation was just received by the diocese that (Flynn) had been involved sexually with a minor," Vaverek said. "We immediately looked to see if it is a possibly credible allegation and removed him to administrative leave pending the full resolution of the matter. We sent the allegation and all the information we have to the Holy See (in Rome)."

Diocese of Tyler Communications Director John D'Avignon said Flynn has previously admitted to having a relationship with a San Antonio woman but denied any impropriety with a minor.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the Archdiocese of San Antonio investigated allegations against Flynn in 1997. He stepped down that year, and reports showed no criminal charges were ever brought against him for those allegations.

Flynn became parish administrator at St. Matthew's in 1999, and retired in 2002 at Corrada's request.

According to Vaverek, the current situation has nothing particularly to do with the 1997 allegations nor with Flynn's resignation from St. Matthew's. The new allegation may be from a woman involved in the previous allegations, Vaverek said, but he did not have access to those original files.

"All the information that the Diocese of Tyler had seen prior to this concerned allegations from adult women," Vaverek said. "The bishop a week ago received an allegation that involved a minor."

In a statement on May 15, Corrada said, "There is nothing to suggest that there are any recent victims, or any victims in the (Tyler) diocese."

According to D'Avignon, the diocese has contacted the district attorney in San Antonio, who will not pursue charges against Flynn because the allegations are old.

As promoter of justice for the diocese, Vaverek has referred the allegations to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome.

"Under the (Dallas) Charter, an allegation that concerns a minor, sexual abuse of a minor, is guaranteed to be addressed, and that even one occasion of an abuse of a minor is subject to a person being permanently removed from the ministry," he said. "The Diocese of Tyler is not saying that he is guilty of these things, but that the allegation is credible, and we need to do what is necessary to find the truth. In all circumstances, we need to be certain that no child is in a position of being abused and that everyone is treated with respect and dignity."

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