A Delaware Catholic bishop recently disclosed to his flockthat a priest who served in several parishes around NewOrleans in the 1980s and '90s was suspended on groundsthat he sexually abused a minor more than 26 years ago.
The Rev. Paul Calamari had left New Orleans in 1997 andwas living under the jurisdiction of Bishop MichaelSaltarelli of the Diocese of Wilmington in 2003 when hisprivilege to say Mass and perform other priestly duties waslifted, Saltarelli reported in his diocesan newspaper onNov. 17.
Calamari was among 20 priests the Wilmington dioceseremoved from ministry between 1985 and 2003 on"admitted, corroborated, or otherwise substantiatedallegations of sexual abuse of minors," Saltarellisaid.
Calamari was ordained in New Orleans and served at St.Raphael, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and Our Lady ofPerpetual Help parishes, said the Rev. William Maestri ofthe Archdiocese of New Orleans. Calamari was also thearchdiocese's director of religious education for atime, Maestri said.
Calamari left New Orleans on medical leave for treatmentat St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pa., apsychiatric center for priests and other church ministers,Maestri said.
Maestri said the archdiocese received a complaint thatCalamari sexually abused a minor before Calamari'sordination to the priesthood in 1980. Maestri said hewasn't sure when the complaint was received, althoughhe assumed it was connected to Calamari's 1997departure.
Maestri said Calamari's case was handled under alocal sexual abuse policy then in place mandating that apriest credibly accused of abusing a minor would be relievedfrom ministry, usually with no public notice. Whether hemight return after treatment was left to the localbishop's discretion.
The more rigorous standard that a single case of sexualabuse of a minor would forever end a minister's activepriesthood came in 2002, in a joint agreement among Catholicbishops meeting in Dallas at the height of the clergy sexualabuse scandal.
Maestri said Calamari was sent for therapy in the late1990s, and on therapists' recommendations, was allowedto resume limited ministry in Delaware and Pennsylvania withlocal bishops' knowledge and consent.
The new Dallas standard ended Calamari's ministry.Maestri said that because Calamari remains a priest, thearchdiocese is required by church law to maintain hissalary. Saltarelli said Calamari's last known addresswas in Pennsylvania.
Saltarelli's disclosure was the first news thatCalamari was credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Since 2002 virtually all bishops have agreed to disclosepublicly whether a priest or employee has been crediblyaccused of abusing a minor. But most, including ArchbishopAlfred Hughes, have been reluctant to disclose the names oflong-ago abusers, either dead or no longer in ministry."This is very, very, very painful work, because of thelives involved on both sides of the equation," Maestrisaid in 2004 about whether the disclosing of pastabusers' names would help people.
Saltarelli acknowledged he was disclosing old names"with some hesitancy. . . . These priests can no longerharm anyone."
But "perhaps by identifying deceased priests, someof their victims may be motivated to seek help," hewrote.
Maestri on Monday repeated the archdiocese'sstanding plea to any victims of sexual abuse to come forwardand seek help.
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Bruce Nolan can be reached at email@example.com or(504) 826-3344.