Ex-Hanover monsignor faces sex assault trial

By Jeff Diamant
May 19, 2004

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson will conduct a church trial for Monsignor William McCarthy, formerly of St. Rose of Lima Church in Hanover, who was removed from the ministry last spring after a diocese panel heard an allegation that he sexually abused two girls 23 years ago.

The panel found the allegation credible and sent the findings to the Vatican, which ordered the diocese to hold the trial. No trial date has been set.

If found guilty, McCarthy could be formally removed from the priesthood.

McCarthy, 64, retired in March 2003, just before the allegation became public, and about three months before his planned retirement.

Church trials - or canonical trials - differ from secular trials. There are no juries, and usually three canon lawyers serve as judges and decide cases. Canonical trials are closed to the public, and no one is cross-examined.

McCarthy's would be the diocese's second church-run trial. In January, the diocese announced that the Vatican had instructed it to put the Rev. James A.D. Smith on trial. Smith, 72, has been accused of molesting a teenager in the 1960s while working at Our Lady of Victories Church in Paterson.

The Paterson Diocese serves 377,000 Catholics in Morris, Sussex and Passaic counties.

In another development, parishioners at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Dover have been reacting with shock to the weekend announcement that their pastor, Monsignor Ronald Tully, has left because of a 25- year-old "legal matter" that has "resurfaced."

No details of Tully's "legal matter" were included in the diocese's announcement, and neither church nor Paterson Diocese officials would elaborate.

"He left so suddenly, there was no opportunity to wish him well or say goodbye or hear any of his explanation," said Larry Magliocchetti, 67, a lector at the church. "I think that's as bad as that he left, that there was no opportunity to say goodbye to him."

Magliocchetti said Tully had been at Sacred Heart for about 20 years. He described him as very compassionate, having opened the church's doors at night for homeless people.

Tully could not be reached for comment yesterday. The diocese statement said the Rev. Joseph Farias will administer the parish, with help from Monsignor Charles Powers, a retired diocese priest.

Jeff Diamant covers religion. He can be reached at jdiamant@starled or (973) 392-1547.

Correction Dated May 20, 2004

An article yesterday about a church-run trial of Monsignor William McCarthy, who has been accused of sex abuse, incorrectly said the church where he had worked, St. Rose of Lima, is in Hanover. The church is in East Hanover. (gp)


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