A Roman Catholic priest has been removed from his parish over allegations that he sexually molested a girl more than two decades ago while serving in a religious order.
The Rev. Paul Gregoire, 73, was placed on administrative leave from St. Charles Borromeo parish on Thursday, according to Patrick McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester.
The church will continue to support Gregoire financially, but he will not be allowed to act as a priest, McGee said.
The alleged misconduct occurred outside New Hampshire in the 1970s while Gregoire served with the Society of St. Sulpice, McGee said.
The diocese was contacted by the alleged victim a month ago. After interviewing the woman and Gregoire, officials determined the allegation was credible, McGee said.
McGee declined to describe the alleged misconduct.
“The person who made the complaint requested that a lot of the details, for her own privacy’s sake, be kept confidential,” McGee said.
It is the only allegation of sexual misconduct the diocese has received concerning Gregoire, who was assigned to St. Charles in 1993, according to the diocese.
McGee told Foster’s Sunday Citizen he did not know where Gregoire was staying this weekend, but he has moved out of the parish house and was not staying at a church institution.
Officials at the U.S. headquarters of the Society of St. Sulpice in Baltimore did not return a telephone message yesterday afternoon.
According to its Web site, the order helps prepare candidates for the priesthood and trains pastors already serving in parishes. The society runs a number of seminaries.
The Rev. Fritz Cerullo, pastor of St. Mary’s, will step in temporarily as administrator at St. Charles until a permanent replacement is appointed, McGee said.
In an interview with Foster’s nine months ago about how Catholics are maintaining their faith during the church’s sexual abuse crisis, Gregoire said strong Catholics were not focusing on the transgressions of individual priests.
“They’re in it for the church,” he said. “They know people are weak, they make mistakes – even priests – but their faith is in Jesus Christ. That kind of individual is as strongly attached to the church as ever.”
The suspension of Gregoire marks the second time St. Charles has been touched by the sexual abuse scandal.
Another priest who served there, the Rev. Hubert Mann, was accused of molesting a teenage boy in the 1960s. Mann’s alleged victim was among a group of 16 people who settled sexual abuse cases against the diocese last month. Mann died in 1972.