Two stories in the news today make it clear that no Catholic priest is safe. Anyone can accuse a priest of molestation, no matter how long ago, and get away with it.
Father John P. Paul has stepped down as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary in Philadelphia. He resigned because of the emotional stress he has been under. In all his years as a priest, he has never had an accusation made against him (he was ordained in 1972). But now, out of the blue, he is being charged with abusing two boys in 1968, when he was a seminarian. It’s funny how both of these alleged victims decided to wait 45 years to make their case—in tandem, no less.
The police were contacted but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. But Father Paul is still being investigated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Had Father Paul been Mr. Paul, a public school teacher, and he was accused of violating a minor at the end of the school year last June, the statute of limitations would have expired (accusers have 90 days to file charges against public school teachers). Moreover, no one would be investigating him. But when it comes to Father Paul, even though the alleged abuse happened in the year Rev. Martin Luther King and Sen. Bobby Kennedy were shot, it’s not too late to get him. It’s never too late to get a priest.
Last week in Chicago, a 73-year-old priest was shaken down for money by the same two con-artist brothers who had hustled him before. This time the priest said no. “We’ll say you touched us—read the paper—they’ll believe us,” they said. Sadly, it’s true. Thanks to our anti-priest culture, fueled by the likes of Bill Maher, every priest is considered suspect. None are safe.
Please keep Father Paul in your prayers.