Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Pastor accused of covering up sexual abuse resigns

PHILADELPHIA - A pastor who allegedly covered up sexual abuse by priests resigned from his church in the Philadelphia suburbs, according to a published report.

The resignation of Msgr. Vincent M. Walsh, 69, who has been on a health sabbatical since August, was read from the pulpit at weekend masses at Presentation Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Wynnewood by the church's interim pastor, Msgr. Michael McCulken, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

A recent grand jury report said that in 1970, when he was Cardinal John Krol's assistant chancellor, Walsh "sat silently" while parents praised a priest for befriending their sons without alerting them to the priest's known sadomasochistic behavior, and later heard complaints about the priest and failed to alert the parish pastor.

The letter McCulken read said Walsh's resignation wasn't related to his work as vice chancellor. Instead, it cited a bacterial infection and other illnesses and said he was leaving for personal reasons relating to his physical and emotional health.

McCulken referred a request for comment to the archdiocese, and Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman, reiterated that it didn't intend to censure administrators named in the grand jury report. Farrell said earlier that Cardinal Justin Rigali was "focused on moving the archdiocese forward."

The Inquirer said another clergyman, Msgr. Samuel E. Shoemaker, pastor of the 2,700-family St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Yardley, called a parish meeting for Wednesday evening to discuss the grand jury's findings.

Though the report said Shoemaker raised occasional concerns that the church wasn't acting forcefully enough against abusers, it also criticized some of his actions, saying he named a known sexual predator as an associate director of youth programs in 1984.

Shoemaker declined to discuss the allegations, but said he would at the meeting, which he said would give parishioners a chance to voice their thoughts. He said he had received some angry letters.

"A lot of people are banding together to have him removed," said one parishioner, Joan Naylor of Yardley, who has three children in the parish school. "They think he can't lead us spiritually, and they're boycotting, going to other churches. They don't want to have him sitting on the altar and have him preaching to us."

See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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