Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Identities of Suspected Child Molester Priests Now Public . . . Four Priests on the List are from Local Tredyffrin Parishes

This has not been a good week for some local Roman Catholic churches.

Twenty-one Philadelphia area priests received sex probe suspensions because of a grand jury report released in February. On the Philadelphia archdiocese suspension of priests, the New York Times ( ) is reporting, “The Mass suspension was the single-most sweeping in the history of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.” The priests who have been suspended cannot celebrate Mass or hear confessions; they were only given a few hours to leave their parishes.

Unfortunately, the Philadelphia archdiocese was a bit ‘delayed’ in releasing the identities of the suspected child molester priests. The names are now public and it is my understanding the priests have been removed from ministry while their cases are reviewed.

National headlines have read ‘Philadelphia priests’ suspended so I did not expect to recognize any of the priests or parishes on the list. It is very disturbing to learn that four of the priests suspended for sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior with minors are from our local Main Line community:

  • Monsignor John A. Close of St. Catherine of Siena in Wayne, Pa.
  • Rev. Steven J. Harris of St. Issac Jogues Catholic Church in Wayne, Pa.
  • Rev. Daniel J. Hoy of Our Lady of the Assumption in Strafford, Pa.
  • Fr. Peter Talocci of St. Patrick’s in Malvern, Pa.

Remember the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese in 2002. The Boston Globe coverage of the criminal prosecution of five priests gave national limelight to the child molester issue in the Roman Catholic Church. (The Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage). The newspaper’s front-page coverage of this issue encouraged other victims to come forward, which resulted in more lawsuits. The cost of legal defense for the Boston archdiocese was staggering. With the identities of the Philadelphia priests now known, we may see a similar situation to Boston with other victims coming forward with allegations of abuse.

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  1. Anyone who would allow their son to set foot into a Catholic church has to be out of their minds. It’s almost child abuse. What you are telling those children is this: child molesters are people we look up to – people we listen to. And those who cover them up (the catholic church), we give money to. It is completely insane. I implore all parents to stop this insanity.

  2. The men were all referred to, but not named, in last month’s grand jury report. They are not charged with any crimes, but have been placed on administrative leave while their cases are reexamined.

    I do not think that you can turn your back on your faith and if you do, it must not have been very strong to begin with. I think the long laundry list of priests who are being accused of the sexual abuse is a little over the top. Could it really be possible that ALL named are guilty? Perhaps some of the accusers are just trying to seek money from a lawsuit. It just gets me so mad to hear so many ignorant people say so many hurtful false negative things. Its just a sad day.

    Because of the lack of leadership to dissolve this matter, the situation has been reduced to a witch-hunt. Does no credible evidence mean the statute of limitations has run out or does is mean he is innocent until proven guilty? If the latter, why all the dishonesty?

    1. yes, it is possible that ALL named are guilty. and more. what normal man do you know wants to willingly go his entire life without sex?

      otherwise, shouldn’t parents fall on the side of caution when it comes to their children? we are sooooooo cautious with them – give them organic foods, can’t go on a trampoline…yet we willingly march them into a house of child molesters and their co-conspirators.

      that is not “faith”. how could God allow such a thing? do you ever ask that? when is this madness going to stop? get real.

      you obviously have not been touched, or know anyone who has been, by childhood abuse. it destroys boy’s lives. destroys it. maybe you should read about it.

      1. I don’t believe in stereotyping the 96% priests in our country that have done NOTHING wrong. Those guilty will pay for their sins and the leadership deserves to be criticized for letting it get out of hand. Again, these priests are not charged with any crimes, but have been placed on administrative leave while their cases are reexamined.

        The institution has over a BILLION followers and 400,000+ priests worldwide. Good people. They will continue to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments.

        1. Vallon – letting it get “out of hand”?

          Tell that to a parent whose son’s life has been destroyed.

          You are really a piece of work.

          I can’t believe there are people who still believe in God. It is truly ridiculous.

        2. Read the Grand Jury report please. These people are not charged with crimes because of the archaic statute of limitations in PA. two years. So if a 10 year old is molested, he’d better come forward and be prepared for the court system before he’s 12 or it’s too late. But if he tells his priest (or his parents do), the church may simply ignore it or move the priest elsewhere to offense again. This is more than “out of hand.” Msgr. Lynn’s arrest is the first time someone has faced criminal charges for the disregard of the allegations — and he faces 20+ years. I hope they nail him and use him to testify against others…
          This IS about children. How can a church be so determined to pursue a “right to life” mission and then disregard the abuse of children in their care?

    2. To “Valon” – respectfully – I was raised Catholic. But I must respond to your comment: “I do not think that you can turn your back on your faith and if you do, it must not have been very strong to begin with.” This, sadly, is the big mistake many Catholics make, confusing faith with the church in Rome. You can have faith in your creator, and even the teachings of the church, and still admit there are a bunch of rotten eggs running the show. It is more important for them to protect the a** of those in power than to devote their lives to protecting the most vulnerable of their flock. Is it a witch hunt? Who knows. These SOBs covered up so much done by so many for so long, that’s exactly the type of backlash that may occur. So be it. Those in Rome and all their minions here and elsewhere have several lifetimes of explaining to do for what they’ve allowed to happen – and have enabled – on their watch. Refusing to give one more dime to a rotten institution has absolutely NOTHING to do with one’s faith in God. Never forget that!

  3. This is a sad day for Catholics. I have been a member of Our Lady of the Assumption parish for 50 years and know Rev. Hoy personally. I hear your words Vallon, but I still find myself struggling to understand these accusations. I run through all the discussions I have had with Rev. Hoy over the years — was there ever any indication of such problems. If there was, I never saw it. I know that we must not jump to blame until the facts are in, but this does not look good.

    I am so sad about this news.

  4. This is heartbreaking. The sixth-grade day school and CCD students at St. Katharine of Siena are receiving Confirmation in two days. It is a day they and the volunteers of the parish have worked toward for seven years, one that is supposed to be memorable, spiritual and special in every way. I had to break the news to my child yesterday evening. It was not an easy thing to do. Thank goodness these priests have been removed. I am shocked and saddened.

  5. I too know one of the priests named. I am shocked and hope that the accusations about him prove false. Never would have suspected. Maybe there is more here than meets the eye? At least for some of the accused?

    1. I suggest you read the Grand Jury reports from 2011 and 2005. and click on the Philly link. The church has hidden too much information and in the process has seriously damaged anyone with any history of problems….I truly hurt for the parents who have trusted their church and love their priests….but these 21 people who are removed are only 21 of 37 the Grand Jury believes should be investigated. The problem is — the investigations should be criminal, but the statute of limitations makes the criminal complaint moot in many cases. We need to write harrisburg to approve the recommendation that there be a two year window where people can come forward and validate these complaints. There can be no presumption of innocence — as these 21 were transferred to their current positions to get a fresh start…did the receiving parish know? Not according to the documents.

  6. Child molesters are found in all walks of life – the Catholic Church is no exception. I do believe in the “presumption of innocence”, but unfortunately when I read the history of many of these men and the cover-up attempts by the Archdiocese over the years, it is obvious that these are not initial or singular accusations.

    Catholics (and I am one) who refuse to face this issue and who don’t urge the Church to assist in prosecuting these pedophiles should be ashamed of themselves. We should all realize by now that these types of people are very good at leading double lives and deceiving everyone around them.

    I agree with Kathie Johnson’s comment – people should not confuse the Church (it’s organization, rules, and staff) with faith and spirituality.

  7. We urge anyone who has knowledge or may have been harmed by any of these priests who are on this list, to call police officials or the Philadelphia prosecutor, not church officials.

    Sex crimes, however old, should be investigated by the independent professionals in law enforcement, not the biased amateurs in church offices.

    Keep in mind your silence only hurts, but by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Also, know that you are not alone, and there is help and healing.

    Judy Jones
    SNAP Midwest Associate Director
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”

  8. Sadly, I believe that this situation will continue as long as the Catholic Church continues its dysfunctional policy which requires their Clergy to avoid normal human sexual behavior. Change the dysfunctional policy and perhaps the behavior of the Clergy will change.

    1. Sorry, Dysfunctional Policy – to equate pedophelia, rape and sexual coercion of minors (hetero- or homosexual) with normal human sexual behavior between consenting adults is SO WRONG!

      1. I think you are ignoring the underlying concern by shutting off discussion of the Dysfunctional policy….certainly the pedophilia is not the same as normal human sexuality, but what I believe DP is positing is that asking normal men to ignore normal urges can distort their own internal controls… Watch the animal kingdom. WHen a female is in heat, male animals are drawn to it. There is no come hither flirting required. Likewise these priests have normal urges that they are required to suppress. I agree that the suppression creates distorted responses….and ignoring boundaries is one of the clear ways that is acted out.
        But the other side of this is that perhaps the “dysfunctional policy” is what draws some of these men into the church. If they are homosexual or pedophiles and know that is bad, perhaps they turn to the church to help them suppress it — and with the church doing such a bad job of managing these rogue behaviors, they are emboldened to continue. There is much self-loathing in breaking rules — and Priests are trained to “forgive” anyone who confesses…so is the true conscience ever really developed?

        1. For the priests and nuns who act upon their normal sexual urges by having sex with other adults – whether it be each other or non-clergy – that is one thing.

          But haven’t we learned over the years that for the adults who prey on kids, it is as much about the need to control and humiliate them as it is about the sex?

          I can agree that some of these people may have sought out the church in an attempt to suppress their urges – just as some may have entered the church as a cover and for the contact with kids.

          What I can’t accept is blaming the policy of celibacy for these terrible criminal acts – that’s like blaming the woman who wears skimpy, sexy clothing if she is sexually attacked – the poor guy just couldn’t help himself!

    This site has a link to the Philadelphia indictment information — the 2011 and the 2005 grand jury documents. It may be unsettling to consider, but the reality is that these documents outline systematic failure to deal with the problem on the part of the church. The man who was assigning priests who had histories of problems is now under arrest I think, and faces several charges of endangering the welfare of a child. You need to read these documents — to get a sense of how victimized some of these “payday” people are….NOT.

    These items do not specifically list any priest names, but the Grand Jury 2011 says: (quoting from the 2011 report):
    We were shocked, therefore, to learn how many priests accused of sexually abusing children have still not been removed from ministry. They include pastors,
    parochial vicars, chaplains, and retired priests who fill in and help out at parishes throughout the Archdiocese. They are not included on the Archdiocese website’s list of known abusers. And, for the most part, none of their parishioners know they have ever been accused of molesting children.”

    Further in the report: “It would be disingenuous for church officials to suggest there is no conflict
    between the interests of the victims they claim to assist and their own interest in avoiding criminal liability for priests and civil liability for the Archdiocese. These divergent interests help to explain some of the policies controlling how the Archdiocese conducts
    its investigations.”

    The Grand Jury concludes:
    ” We implore Cardinal Rigali and his staff to review all of the old allegations against currently active priests, and to remove from ministry all of the priests with
    credible allegations against them. By the Archdiocese’s own account, at least 37 priests remain in ministry despite reports that they have engaged in improper behavior with minors. That should not be acceptable to anyone.”

    These 21 suspended priests are from that list of 37 apparently —

    The Grand Jury openly questions the Review Board and wonders why it exists…

    So maybe there is more here than meets the eye, but maybe the eyes need to read the information and adopt the Grand Jury conclusion that victims should go straight to authorities — telling the church whenever — but getting their justice from the courts.

  10. John makes a strong point here — that many local activists in politics are indeed part of the blind faith that follows this religion. Right to Life advocates come largely from our local RC groups. When you are voting for your R or D committee person, perhaps you should be more inclined to ask questions of them about their own background. It is frightening to recognize just how many lemmings are out here — those who offer up talking points rather than do some analysis and thinking. We are all guilty — competition (we win!) can be very provocative…so how do we ferret out the real from the artificial?

    1. I propose to all Catholics: vote with your pocket book. Continue to go to mass if it brings you comfort, but slip a little note instead of money into the envelope you put in the basket. Tell your pastor in the note that the donation you’d normally give to the church from now on will be going to SNAP – The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, since the Catholic church has proven they are incapable of managing this crisis.

      I also have a hard time understanding how those who profess to be “pro life” have shown so little regard for the lives of children who have already been born.

      1. Kathie
        You are clearly someone who feels this deeply, and as a non-Catholic, it makes me feel good to read your comments and your replies. I have so many RC friends that simply “pray” for their priests and believe none of htis can be true — that it’s a witch hunt. Would that were true, and I too hope some of those recently identified are not guilty, but your first comment is so true — so much has been hidden about so many for so long that it’s impossible to not believe that in this case, since there’s smoke, there is likely fire. And kids are at the center of the pain.

  11. I personally know Father Pete Talocci. I don’t believe he EVER hurt a child! No one talks about how an allegation like this could ruin his life and it could be a FALSE ALLEGATION! What about all the good he has done for people? What about how he connected with people and cared? I haven’t heard ONE allegation detail yet and so far nothing has been substantiated! I truly feel for anyone who has been abused but when it comes to Pete, I’m not buying it! At this point even if he has been cleared, his life’s work and his future has been ruined. This is why people are to be considered INNOCENT until proven guilty!

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