Whistleblower priest claims church ostracizing him
WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) —
A priest from West Palm Beach says the Catholic Church has tried to force him out after he blew the whistle about a pedophile priest.
Father John Gallagher is breaking his silence.
"The Bishop's responsibility is to take care of his priests and that's not happening. I have been ostracized," said Fr. John Gallagher.
Father John Gallagher was about to be named pastor at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in suburban West Palm Beach last January, when he learned one of his priests, Jose Palimatton, had shown child pornography to a teenage boy.
He reported it to the Diocese of Palm Beach. But he says they didn't want to hear it.
"When I made the initial phone call to the Diocese, I was told we are used to this, we normally put people like this on an airplane," Gallagher said.
Bishop Gerald Barbarito, Gallagher says, called him a few days later and said he didn't want to know the details of the Palimatton incident.
Gallagher called the sheriff's office. Palimatton was arrested, pleaded guilty and got 6 months in jail and was ordered deported back to India.
Fr. Gallagher says instead of applauding what he did to get rid of a pedophile priest, he says the church has treated him like an outcast.
"You're shunned all the way. There's roadblocks. You're shunned. You're not supported. You're left on your own," Gallagher explained.
Gallagher says while he was out on medical leave, the Diocese removed all his possessions from the rectory where he lived and changed the locks on the door.
He tried to share his concerns with Cardinal Sean O'Malley in Boston. O'Malley was at the forefront of cleaning up the priest sex-abuse scandal.
Gallagher says he got nowhere.
"Cardinal O'Malley suggested that I would take a very long vacation on October 8, 2015," Gallagher said.
"And what did you take that to mean?" asked CBS12 reporter Al Pefley.
"That means what it means. Go away," Gallagher explained.
So does Gallagher believe the Catholic Church is serious about coming clean?
"If the church is looking for all their priests to step forward and be a whistleblower like myself they need to encourage them and support them. I had all my hopes in Pope Francis and zero tolerance and full disclosure and I don't see that," Gallagher said.
PBSO actually wrote a letter to Cardinal Sean O'Malley in Boston, commending Gallagher for his actions.
Meanwhile, Father Gallagher is on medical leave from this church.
The Diocese of Palm Beach issued a statement, which reads in part:
"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 made these points.
Father Gallagher was not demoted .
The locks were not changed at Father Gallagher's former parochial house.
Father Gallagher requested a medical leave freely on his own and has been negligent in informing the Diocese of his current residence.