US based Priest who reported pedophile priest to police demoted and shut out of his parish


BELFAST TELEGRAPH: A US-based priest from County Tyrone who called police after a colleague showed sickening child porn images to a 14-year-old boy says he has been ‘frozen out’ by the Catholic Church over his stance.

Father John A Gallagher is living in a friend’s home after locks at his parochial house were changed and he was placed on medical leave by his bishop in the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida. The 48-year-old claims he was told by a church official to put a paedophile priest on a plane rather than co-operate with police.

A local police chief, so concerned at the Irish cleric’s treatment, wrote to church leaders to complain about how the whistleblower is being treated.

Fr Gallagher broke his year-long silence over the affair to tell how the priest from India at the centre of the abuse scandal is a danger to children. He says he has been unable to find out where the priest is now.

He has written to bishops and cardinals in Ireland and America about the case - as well as Vatican officials - and has, so far, been unable to get a satisfactory response.

Fr Gallagher is originally from Strabane. He served the Long Tower parish in Londonderry until 2000 before taking up a post in the US.

The astonishing case began in January 2015 when Father Jose Palimattom - who had been at the parish of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ Catholic Church in West Palm Beach for just four weeks - approached a 14-year-old boy after Mass.

He showed the teenager up to 40 images of naked boys. Police believe he was in the first stages of grooming his victim. Later that night, Palimattom sent the boy a message on Facebook which read: “Good night. Sweet dreams.”

The teenager told a friend who reported it to the church choirmaster, who immediately told Father Gallagher. The priest says he was told that night by a church official in Florida: “We need to make him go away, put on a plane”.

In documents filed to the Vatican by a specialist Canon Lawyer on behalf of Fr Gallagher, the priest claimed he was instructed ‘do not keep written notes’ by the same church official. The legal document was sent to Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

After the incident involving the boy, Fr Gallagher disregarded the instruction to put Fr Palimattom on a plane to Bangalore. Instead, he interviewed Fr Palimattom along with a retired police officer, who was one of his parishioners.

The parishioner, who took notes at the meeting, said the Indian priest not only admitted showing nude pictures of boys to the local teenager, but also admitted he had sexually assaulted young boys in India before arriving in the States.

It was a confession he would repeat within hours to detectives assigned to the case from a specialist unit of the West Palm Beach Police.

Fr Gallagher said he immediately called the Sheriff’s Department of the West Palm Beach police, following rules set down by the American Church after hundreds of child sex abuse scandals. Some of those cases in Boston are featured in the new movie ‘Spotlight’ released here last weekend.

The Irish cleric is well-known throughout the Catholic community in the States, has made several religious music records and has made numerous television appearances.

In 2012, the then Pope Benedict XVI wrote him a personal note, thanking him for his work with the church.

But all that was a distant memory last year, he says, when he says he began to feel “the wrath” of the Church. “It was made clear to me that what I had done (co-operating with the police) wasn’t what I should have done,” he said.

"It was a very distressing time for me and the parish. But we had a special Mass and I told the congregation what had happened. I told them it was now in the hands of the rightful authorities, the police.

“Palimattom was on the local TV news as his arrest became public. I did the right thing.”

Church officials dealt with the boy and his family through lawyers and an out-of-court settlement was made.

In February, says Fr Gallagher, he learned of a bid to have him moved at a meeting attended by around 100 Hispanic Catholics, most of them from outside the parish.

He had brought in a Spanish priest to celebrate Spanish Masses and was unaware of any complaints.

In late April, he says, he was called to a meeting by the Bishop of Palm Beach, Gerald Barbarito. Three other officials were there. Fr Gallagher says he was due to be promoted, but instead was told to continue in his role for another year, when it would be reviewed again.

He says he wasn’t happy with the decision, but was completely unprepared for a phone call from Bishop Barbarito the next day. “He told me I was being demoted,” said Father Gallagher.

“No reason was given. I asked if I could meet with him again and this was refused. He said if I didn’t wish to be demoted and moved to another parish, I should leave the priesthood.”

Less than four weeks later Fr Gallagher was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with a suspected heart attack after becoming unwell whilst hearing Confessions.

He says he felt aggrieved when Bishop Barbarito visited him in hospital but didn’t anoint him or bring Communion.



Wonder what Fr. Gallagher will do now. I pray he won’t leave the priesthood. The Church needs men of integrity within its leadership ranks.

Nevertheless, this story was hard to read. No good deed goes unpunished! Stories like these place churchmen lower and lower on the list of people I trust. (Not trying to be uncharitable, but it’s what I think).

What could possess a bishop to punish a whistle-blower like this? I guess it was just bad for business.


Oh goodness. Father Gallegher will be in my prayers.


Just found another thread shedding new light on the situation.


There’s already a thread re: this, in Catholic News, with a recent statement posted from his FL diocese which refutes all of Fr G’s claims. He needs our prayers.


Poor Good Priest! He needs our prayerful support.

After reading this, am more sure that instead of bringing “the case” to the Pastor or church authorities, one should bring it to the police. Let the police handle it. They know what to do – we hope! This way there is no retribution on the Priest.

What can the church authorities do to a lay person if the person does not work for the parish or the diocese? Excommunication? I don’t think so. God help us!


Of course they are going to refute all of Father’s claims. That is to be expected. Lawyers tell you to not admit . . . and people (Bishops are people) forget that we “must answer to a Higher Authority”!


I did see that. But I don’t know who to believe.


Well they have written a statement with evidence that can be backed by the local sheriff’s department, a federal organisation. So it’s most likely factual and correct, otherwise the MSM could have a field day.


Diocese of Palm Beach Releases Statement to Respond to Allegations Made by Father John Gallagher

In response to recent media coverage of allegations made against the diocese, the Diocese of Palm Beach is issuing the following statement:

“The Diocese of Palm Beach is very disappointed in the actions of Father John Gallagher who, through a complete misrepresentation of the case of Father Jose Palimattom, has brought unfair and slanderous allegations against the Church and the Diocese of Palm Beach. Father Gallagher has acted in a similar manner in other situations in the past and has been given every opportunity for correction, including the possibility of professional assistance.

Father Gallagher has publicly stated that he contacted the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office the evening the incident occurred. The sheriff’s report indicates that Father Gallagher was not the one who made the report. He also publicly stated that he contacted the Diocese the evening the incident occurred. The Diocese of Palm Beach did not receive any communication from him until the next day. Upon learning of the allegation, the Diocese of Palm Beach immediately contacted authorities and learned that the incident had already been reported to them by the boy’s family, not Father Gallagher.

The Diocese of Palm Beach acted in a prompt, thorough, and cooperative manner in regard to Father Palimattom. Father Gallagher was not in any way demoted or removed because of the incident. He was not named as pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church for a number of reasons not related to the incident involving Father Palimattom. He was given a new assignment with all the reasons explained to him. Access to his residence was never denied him, nor was he refused the sacraments. At his request he was placed on medical leave and continues to receive salary, health insurance and benefits. At the present time he has not made known to the Diocese his whereabouts.

Father Gallagher is blatantly lying and is in need of professional assistance as well as our prayers and mercy.

The Diocese is very concerned regarding the manner in which the media is presenting this case, especially when the Diocese had released to it information that should have caused more than reasonable caution in presenting misleading information from Father Gallagher.”

The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach encompasses the five counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee. Comprised of 280,000 Catholics in 53 parishes and missions, the Diocese also serves the faithful community through its schools.


Maybe, just maybe, Father Gallagher will be sent back to his country. Sure hope not.

The other man, if he does not stay in jail, might also be sent to another country. Years ago, cardinal law was called to rome the night before the indictment.

God help us!


The story said that the priest would be demoted. There is no way a priest can be demoted. He does what his bishop asks of him and goes where the bishop sends him. There is no such thing as being demoted. So something is suspicious about this.


I think he probably should have gone to the Vatican first, instead of local police, they actually are the authority in this regard, similar to crimes on a military base, you dont call the local police, you call the MP, plus police are naturally going to assume guilt right away.




Wonder where the foreign priest got his phone


This is awful. What is wrong with the Bishops? All of these homosexual/pedophile priests need to be thrown into prison and excommunicated instead of simply being put into different parishes and having their crimes swept under the rug. May God help Father in his illness.


Yes, of course a priest can be demoted. A job has different levels of authority and a person can be promoted or demoted. Or a priest can be sent from one position to another that is much less prestigious. There are clear messages from the Diocese when that happens.


The statement from the Diocese of Palm Beach makes more sense to me that the claims of Fr. Gallagher especially those comments regarding him being “up for promotion” but was “demoted”.


You know, at first I was undecided, but I just realized that bishop would never tell a priest to “accept a demotion or leave the priesthood”. That sounds bogus.


Many prayers are needed for everyone involved.

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