Following a church investigation Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
determined that there was a substantiated case of sexual abuse of a
minor against a 58-year-old priest identified as Michael A. Chapman,
according to a church statement. It gave no further details on the
Chapman was not immediately available for comment.
The other four suspended priests were determined to have violated
standards of behavior and boundaries, the church said without
elaborating. A church document defines one of the boundaries as
pertaining to appropriate behavior with children.
The church said it had already reported the allegations against the
men to the Philadelphia district attorney's office, and an
archdiocese spokesman said he was not aware of any criminal charges
against the men.
Calls to the district attorney's office were not immediately
returned on Sunday.
The move means the suspended priests can have no public ministry,
administer sacraments, wear clerical garb or present themselves as
priests. All the suspensions announced on Sunday have been in effect
for some time, with four of them dating back to 2011.
The allegations against the five grew out of a 2011 Philadelphia
grand jury report that ended with the jailing of Monsignor William
Lynn, the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic Church official convicted in
a child sex abuse scandal.
Lynn, the one-time secretary of the clergy for the archdiocese, was
convicted last year of endangering the welfare of a child by
reassigning a priest with a history of sexual abuse to a
Philadelphia parish that was unaware of his past.
Lynn's case is under appeal.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by
Priests, was critical of Chaput's handling of the investigation.
"There's only one reason to delay and to lump multiple accused
predator priests together for one big announcement," Clohessy said
before the church released its statement on Sunday.
"Chaput simply wants to try and make sure there's just one story
about child-molesting clerics, not several stories."
Kenneth Gavin, the archdiocese spokesman, said on Sunday the grand
jury found in its report that other cases should be studied,
although no indictments were issued, and no names were listed at the
Gavin said the archdiocese launched its own investigation to seek
other possible violations. Before Sunday, 18 priests were placed on
leave since 2011, but eight of them were later found suitable for
the ministry, and another nine were found unsuitable.
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In addition to Chapman, the other priests whose suspensions were
announced on Sunday ranged in age from 40 to 75. One is a
75-year-old former military chaplain for the Pennsylvania National
Guard and U.S. Air Force, who has also served in parish schools.
Also on Sunday, two priests were cleared by the church of any
wrongdoing. Gavin said a decision has not been made about what may
come next for them.
Separately in Minnesota, Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis apologized on
Sunday for having "overlooked" the problem of sexual abuse by
These were his first public comments on the matter since the
archdiocese was forced this month by a judge to release the names of
about 30 priests suspected of abusing minors over a span of decades.
"When I arrived here seven years ago one of the first things I was
told is that this whole question of clerical sexual abuse had been
taken care of," Nienstedt told reporters after addressing
parishioners at Our Lady of Grace Church in Edina, southwest of
"Unfortunately I believed that."
In videotaped comments posted on the Star Tribune newspaper's
website, Nienstedt said he wanted to "hold up the 97 percent of our
priests who are honest, noble, hardworking, selfless individuals."
A spokesman for the archdiocese did not immediately respond to
requests seeking comment.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in San Francisco;
by Cynthia Johnston and Paul Simao)
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