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Two former Philadelphia priests are ‘not suitable’ for ministry, archdiocese investigations find

The Rev. Andrew McCormick and Monsignor Gregory J. Parlante were found to be no longer suitable for ministry following internal church investigations. McCormick, who had been on administrative leave since 2011, was found to have against him a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. In 2017, church officials discovered that Parlante had received illegal drugs in a package.

Separate internal investigations by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has found that two clergy members had engaged in behavior that was either illegal or a violation of ministerial standards.
Separate internal investigations by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has found that two clergy members had engaged in behavior that was either illegal or a violation of ministerial standards.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / FILE PHOTO

Two former priests who once served at parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have been found to be "not suitable for ministry," the archdiocese announced Sunday night, after separate internal church investigations found that the clergy members had engaged in behavior that was either illegal or a violation of ministerial standards.

The archdiocese announced that the Rev. Andrew D. McCormick, a former priest who served stints at parishes in Port Richmond and Bridgeport, among other locations, will be  removed of his right to function as a priest or will "enter into a supervised life of prayer and penance" after the church investigation found a "substantiated allegation" of sexual abuse of a minor. In addition, the archdiocese said Sunday, Monsignor Gregory J. Parlante was deemed to be no longer suitable for ministry after parish staff in Chadds Ford last year found a package he was sent containing illegal drugs.

The announcement from the archdiocese Sunday marked the latest news to surround the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, parishes across Pennsylvania were rocked by release of an explosive grand jury report that examined six dioceses statewide and leveled sexual-abuse allegations against at least 300 priests — including some who had passed in and out of Philadelphia parishes. The report's reverberations were so powerful that even the Vatican last week called the allegations "criminally and morally reprehensible" and said the described abuse "robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith."

>> READ MORE: Area Catholics on Pa. grand jury report: 'It's sad … heartbreaking'

The announcement by the archdiocese Sunday was not a direct result of the grand jury report and instead followed the completion of separate archdiocesan investigations into the two clergy members' alleged misconduct. Here's the procedure, according to a news release: The Archdiocesan Office of Investigations opens a probe following an investigation by civil authorities and is headed by a former first assistant district attorney for Philadelphia. The results of the church's investigation are then passed to the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibilities Review Board, a confidential advisory body composed of 12 Catholics and non-Catholics with experience surrounding child sexual abuse. That board then makes a recommendation to the archbishop on a clergy member's suitability for continuing to serve.

McCormick, a 62-year-old priest who last served at the Sacred Heart Parish in Bridgeport, was placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese following a March 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report, which cataloged similar cases of sexual abuse by members of the clergy and cover-up by their superiors. In 2012, McCormick was arrested on charges related to the sexual assault of a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997. He faced two trials, but both times a Philadelphia jury was unable to reach a verdict. A civil lawsuit was filed against McCormick afterward. It was resolved earlier this year, the archdiocese said without providing further information.

Separately, the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibilities Review Board recommended to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput that Parlante — a 61-year-old priest who has worked in more than a half-dozen parishes in Philadelphia, including at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor — is no longer suitable for ministry based on "substantiated violations of the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries." Last year, not long after Parlante requested a leave of absence, parish staff at St. Cornelius Catholic Church in Chadds Ford found a package addressed to Parlante with illegal drugs inside. In January 2018, Parlante faced two misdemeanor and one felony charge related to the incident.

>> READ MORE: Camden Bishop Sullivan: I am 'ashamed and disgusted' by clergy sex abuse in grand jury report

According to the archdiocese, Parlante entered into a pretrial program for nonviolent, first-time offenders. Parlante also has been ordered to perform 64 hours of community service, pay back the $5,500 he stole from his parish, and complete one year of probation. The archdiocese did not say what other outcome he may face.