In response to an article recently published in a newspaper in Ireland, the Diocese of Palm Beach is issuing the following statement:
“The recent article written by Greg Harkin for the Irish Independent Newspaper in Ireland regarding the allegations of Father John Gallagher against the Diocese of Palm Beach is a completely inaccurate representation of the facts. The diocese stands by our January 6, 2015, Press Release (included below) regarding the criminal charges against Father Jose Palimattom, OFM. In this widely-distributed statement and made available in print and on our website the Diocese of Palm Beach stated our immediate response, contact and cooperation with authorities regarding the investigation. Additionally, the diocese released a letter on January 8, 2015, to the parishioners of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church (included below). We once again release those items.
As for the other allegations which the article reports were made by Father John Gallagher, the Diocese of Palm Beach deems them to be a completely inaccurate reflection of the facts. Father Gallagher’s reassignment was not related to the incident with the visiting priest.
In part, these inaccuracies include:
Father Gallagher was not demoted but given a new assignment with residence.
The locks were not changed at Father Gallagher’s former parochial house, leaving him homeless.
Father Gallagher requested a medical leave freely on his own and has been negligent in informing the Diocese of his current residence.
The following are copies of the January 6, 2015 statement released by the Diocese of Palm Beach and the January 8, 2015 letter to the parishioners and congregation of Holy Name Catholic Church.
Diocese of Palm Beach Releases Statement Regarding the Criminal Charges of Reverend Palimattom, OFM
(Palm Beach Gardens, FL) January 6, 2015 – In response to the arrest and criminal charges filed against Reverend Jose Palimattom, OFM, a priest visiting from India, the Diocese of Palm Beach is issuing the following statement:
“The Diocese of Palm Beach is greatly concerned and takes very seriously the charges against Father Jose Palimattom, OFM. Father Palimottom is a priest of the Franciscan Province of St. Thomas the Apostle in India and began serving in December 2014 at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in West Palm Beach, a parish of the Diocese of Palm Beach. Father Palimattom was arrested yesterday on charges of possession of pornography and distributing it to a minor.
Upon learning about the allegations, the Diocese of Palm Beach immediately contacted authorities and cooperated in the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This cooperation resulted in the arrest of Father Palimattom.
The Diocese of Palm Beach completes a thorough screening of visiting priests and religious before granting them faculties to minister or celebrate sacraments within its diocese. As part of its due diligence, the diocese completed a background screening which also included a screening in India, and received a Certificate of Aptitude from the Minister Provincial in India. During this background process, no prior misconduct was revealed.
Bishop Gerald Barbarito wishes to assure the faithful community that this allegation is being taken very seriously and expresses sincere regret to the family involved and all the faithful hurt by this regrettable matter.
The Diocese of Palm Beach encourages anyone who may have additional information on this or similar matters to contact the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office at 561 688-3400 and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Palm Beach at 561-775-9500.”
January 8, 2015
To the Parishioners of Holy Name of Jesus Parish
My Brothers and Sister in Christ,
As you are probably aware, Father Jose Palimattom, OFM, a priest of the Franciscan Province of St. Thomas the Apostle in India who had been in our Diocese for less than a month, was recently arrested on charges of possession of pornography and showing the material to a minor. Father Palimattom continues to be incarcerated.
I want to assure this faith community that such allegations are taken very seriously within the Diocese of Palm Beach. Upon learning of the allegation, the Diocese of Palm Beach immediately contacted police authorities and has cooperated in the investigation conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
It is the policy of the Diocese of Palm Beach to conduct a full background screening when a visiting priest wishes to visit and minister within our Diocese. Part of Father Palimattom’s screening included a background screening conducted in India as well as receipt of a Certificate of Aptitude from the Minister Provincial in India that essentially approved Father Palimattom’s ministerial work, granted permission for him to come to our Diocese, and assured us that there is nothing in his past that would indicate that he might deal with minors or adults in an inappropriate manner. During this background process, no prior misconduct was revealed.
I have suspended all priestly faculties which were previously granted to Father Palimattom, so that he does not have permission to provide any ministry within our Diocese nor even present himself as a priest. We are also in contact with the Minister Provincial of the Franciscan Province of St. Thomas the Apostle in India.
The Diocese of Palm Beach will continue to cooperate with investigators. I encourage anyone who may have additional information or similar experiences to contact the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office at 561-688-3400, as well as the Chancellor of the Diocese of Palm Beach at 561-775-9500.
I sincerely regret the hurt which this distressing matter has caused to the family involved as well as to the entire parish family of Holy Name of Jesus.
Assuring the parish family of Holy Name of Jesus of my prayers, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
Bishop of Palm Beach