Nearly a dozen Jesuit priests who in past decades worked in Philadelphia at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School or St. Joseph’s University were named by the religious order Monday on a newly released list of clerics who at some point were credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
The list was released by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, an order whose priests served in parts of Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
Most of the abuse dates back decades, and in only two of the cases were priests accused of committing the abuse while in Philadelphia. None of those named are still in active ministry, though the information released shows that some priests remained in ministry years after the abuse took place.
The Jesuits said their policies for removing priests from ministry improved after the greater Catholic Church reformed its reporting rules in 2002.
“We know better now," the release said. "Our awareness of the nature and effect of abuse of minors has changed dramatically over the years. ... We recognize now our failures of the past in this regard, and we are deeply sorry.”
The Jesuits said they decided to name the priests given recent revelations about sexual abuse of minors and ongoing calls for dioceses and orders to release names. (The release this past summer of a grand jury report covering past abuse allegations in six of Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses has sparked similar investigations in more than a dozen states.)
Priests who are members of religious orders, which also include the Benedictines, Augustinians, and Franciscans, make up roughly one-third of priests in the United States. They operate largely independently from the dioceses in which they serve.
St. Joseph’s University acknowledged in a statement Monday that six of the priests on the list had ties to the university at various points from the 1930s to the 1990s, but that the school “does not currently have any records reflecting reports of sexual misconduct on our campus involving these individuals.”
Three are deceased and three were removed from ministry, the school noted.
“As a Jesuit university founded with the educational mission of developing and caring for the whole person, St. Joseph’s is deeply saddened to learn of this and other reported sexual abuse by priests and religious officials around the world,” the school said in its statement. “We continue our firm commitment to addressing and stopping any reported abuse on our own campus, and our community stands in prayerful solidarity with survivors and their families.”
St. Joseph’s Prep, which is not affiliated with the university other than sharing a name and being a Jesuit school, declined to comment and referred all questions to the Jesuits.
Among those named was Philadelphia native Stephen M. Garrity, who was assigned to the Prep off and on from 1964 to 1980. Allegations against him came to light in 2013, when the Jesuits informed the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office that they had received a credible allegation that he had inappropriate physical contact with a student at the Prep in the 1970s.
The District Attorney’s Office did not take criminal action, noting that the statute of limitations had expired, but the Jesuits continued their investigation.
A graduate of St. Joseph’s Prep, Garrity joined the Jesuits in 1957 and had a number of posts over his career, including teaching there from 1964 to 1967 and then 1971 to 1979. He also was school chaplain from 1975 to 1978.
He has not been in active ministry since 2007. He was removed as pastor of Holy Cross parish in Durham, N.C., that year for sexual misconduct with adults.
At the time the allegations were reported, he lived in a monitored community with other Jesuits.
Garrity died in 2014.
Other priests credibly accused of abuse who had assignments in Philadelphia named by the order:
Allegations that the order found were reasonable but could not be fully investigated, in some cases because the priest had died once the allegations surfaced: