A priest who had been furloughed after parents raised concerns will not be reassigned to a Narragansett parish after all.
The Diocese of Providence said in a news release Friday that Bishop Thomas J. Tobin had rescinded the appointment of Father Eric Silva as associate pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Narragansett.
The move came at the request of Silva himself and Father Marcel Taillon, parish priest of Saint-Thomas More, the diocese said.
“It is with a heavy heart that I realize that my presence there will only hurt the parish and cause division among the good people of God,” Silva said in his written request to Tobin, according to the diocese.
Silva was previously assistant pastor of St. Luke’s Parish in Barrington, but was put on leave in February. A parent at a Catholic school in Cranston where he had been a visiting priest alleged he asked students inappropriate questions during confession – wondering if they were gay or sexually active and accusing them of lying.
“While Father Silva retains the priestly faculties of the Diocese of Providence, he will not receive a new assignment at this time,” the diocese said Friday.
Prof. Eric Silva’s reassignment sparked protests
Silva was scheduled to begin his new role at St. Thomas More on Aug. 15, a move that sparked protests from victims of clergy sex abuse.
Silva was not accused of sexual abuse, but the defense group Network of Survivors of Those Abused by Priests said asking inappropriate questions of children “stinks of grooming habits.”
A protest against Silva’s appointment was scheduled to take place outside the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence at 11:30 a.m. Friday. Less than an hour before, the diocese had announced that his appointment had been rescinded.
Supporters say they still want to see more accountability – in particular, an investigation into Silva.
“To get to the truth, Bishop Tobin has a moral responsibility to report Father Eric Silva’s actions to the police for investigation, even though Bishop Tobin has canceled Father Eric Silva’s mission,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents the survivors. of child sexual abuse and was played by Stanley Tucci in the movie “Spotlight”.
“We are very concerned that Bishop Tobin has chosen to keep the priestly faculties of Father Eric Silva in place,” said Terence McKiernan, President of BishopAccountability.org, said in a statement. “These faculties should be immediately suspended, pending a full and open investigation into the allegations against Silva. The sexual interrogation of children in confession is closely associated with sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and for this reason is not authorized.”