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Following allegations of a culture of sexual misconduct and alcohol abuse at a Boston-based Catholic seminary owned by the Archdiocese of Boston, the head priest is being placed on sabbatical.
Rector James P. Moroney has been placed on immediate leave pending an investigation into claims against Saint John's Seminary in Brighton made by two former seminarians, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said in a statement Friday.
Broadly, the claims made by the seminarians suggest that as they trained for the priesthood they witnessed and experienced activities that were "contrary to moral standards," according to the statement.
A blog post shared Tuesday to the official Facebook page for the Archdiocese of Boston was written by an individual who lobs complaints against two unnamed seminaries, detailing allegations of sexual misconduct. He also claimed to have witnessed during his studies alcohol use by priests and others at both seminaries.
An individual who claims to have attended Saint John's shared the blog post to the page, claiming that one of the seminaries referenced is an account of instances at the Brighton school.
Calling the allegations "a source of serious concern," O'Malley said the investigation will also examine issues of sexual harassment or other forms of intimidation or discrimination at Saint John's.
"The ministry of the Catholic priesthood requires a foundation of trust with the people of the Church and the wider community in which our priests serve," he said in the statement. "I am determined that all our seminaries meet that standard of trust and provide the formation necessary for priests to live a demanding vocation of service in our contemporary society."
O'Malley said Moroney was placed on leave to allow for "a fully independent inquiry" into the accusations against the school. Auxiliary Bishop of Boston Rev. Mark O'Connell, Assumption College President Francesco Cesareo — who is also chair of the National Review Board — and Kimberly Jones, CEO of Athena Legal Strategies Group will oversee the investigation.
The cardinal appointed Rev. Stephen Salocks, professor of sacred scripture at the school, to serve as interim rector until the investigation is complete.
Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately described certain claims by an individual who lobbed accusations of misconduct at two seminaries as occurring at Saint John's seminary. The article has been updated to remove this inaccuracy. The article has also been updated to correct a misspelling of Cesareo’s first name and give his correct title. We regret the errors.
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