The Roman Catholic church has been under scrutiny for quite some time because of the scandal caused by the allegations that clergymen had been molesting young children. The Philadelphia Archdiocese has chosen to expel two priests after separate investigations into some allegations that the men had sexually assaulted minors more than 40 years ago. Reverends James J. Collins and John P. Paul are the priests in question. Both men were put on leave from the ministry in 2013 pending investigation into the accusations. It has now been decided that neither of the two men is suitable to continue serving under the ministry. The final decision to remove Rev. John Paul and Rev. James Collins from the ministry was made by Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput.
Reverend James Collins, 75, was a professor of religious studies at Philadelphia’s Holy Family University until just last year when he retired. He began teaching at the university in 1976, roughly 12 years after he was ordained. He had been teaching there for nearly 30 years. The allegations came up against him in early 2013, claiming that he had sexually abused a 17-year-old student at a catholic school where he was a teacher. He was put on leave from the ministry in May of last year, and reportedly could not be found for comment on the developments.
Reverend John Paul, 67, was first ordained in 1972 and served at the Our Lady of Calvary parish until December of last year, when his leave took effect. The allegations against Paul came up early in 2013, but according to a representative from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the decision was made to allow him to continue preaching as long as he submitted to be under supervision when with children. The accusation that sparked the investigation into Rev. Paul’s case was that of the molestation of a 17 year old as well.
It was with the recommendation of the APRRB after carrying out their investigations concerning the cases of alleged sexual assault of minors that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Archbishop Chaput made the decision to expel these two priests. The Archdiocesan Professional Responsibility Review Board is a board of 12 men and women with experience dealing with cases of the sexual abuse of children that deals with looking into any allegations of this kind.
The allegations against both men were reported to the Philadelphia Attorney General’s office. However, there will be no legal action taken against them, as the cases are too old to pursue according to the statute of limitations.
Both men have the right and the opportunity to appeal their to the Vatican. Should they choose to decline to appeal, they will be removed from clergy and/or sent to live a life of penance and prayer. The same punishment will be pursued if their appeal fails.
Many parishioners at Father Paul’s church were shocked to learn of the news that he would not be returning as the preacher. The news that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had decided to expel the two priests from the ministry due to their involvement in the sexual assault of minors was announced in the church bulletin given out during mass today.
By Robin Syrenne