Named in Report,; Two Lose Jobs

By Ramona Smith
Philadelphia Daily News
September 27, 2005

Two of the priests singled out in last week's grand jury report on sex abuse of children by area clergy will no longer be saying Mass in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Amid furor over the extent of the depravity and accusations that Catholic officials had looked the other way, Cardinal Justin Rigali has removed from their jobs the only two active clergy among those named in the grand jury probe.

Until Sunday, the Rev. Robert L. Brennan, alleged to have had "inappropriate contact" with more than 20 boys, and Rev. John H. Mulholland, subject of reports involving sado-masochism and human excrement, were assigned as chaplains at homes for the sick or elderly.

But in a statement yesterday, the archdiocese noted the two "have been the focus of extraordinary attention."

"After the two priests were consulted, Cardinal Rigali has relieved them of their assignments...," the archdiocese said. They were not, however, ousted from the priesthood. The archdiocese did not point, in its explanation, to any alleged misdeeds.

"What's going to happen now is that, now that they have been relieved of their assignments, they are not going to be able to do any public ministry and we're going to continue to evaluate the situation," said archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell.

Brennan, 67, had been chaplain at Camilla Hall in Immaculata, Chester County, a convent for retired members of the order of Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mulholland, 66, had served as chaplain at Immaculate Mary Home on Holme Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia.

The grand jury report - which has drawn sharp rebukes from the archdiocese - said Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and the late Cardinal John Krol, often swept allegations under the rug. It documented sexual abuse by at least 63 priests. Among these were Brennan and Mulholland.

Brennan was repeatedly described as holding boys tightly on his lap, at St. Ignatius Parish in Yardley; at St. Mary's Parish in Schwenksville, and at Resurrection of Our Lord in Northeast Philadelphia. Church officials said he was "not diagnosed" a pedophile.

Mulholland drew complaints as early as 1968, when a mother at St. Joseph's Church in Hatboro produced two letters to her son with illustrations of chains and bondage, an invitation from the priest to "break me on vacation" and a plan revealing a taste for human excrement.

He later was assigned to St. Anastasia in Newtown Square, Blessed Virgin Mary in Darby, Holy Child in North Philadelphia, Stella Maris in South Philadelphia, St. Francis of Assisi in Norristown and Immaculate Conception in Levittown.

An archdiocese review board, however, cleared Mulholland of any sexual abuse in 2004 and took no action against Brennan.

Only one priest has been charged as a result of sex abuse investigations in the archdiocese. The statute of limitations has expired for the alleged offenses.

Contact: Ramona Smith


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