On January 1, Monsignor James P. Moroney, the now former rector of St. John’s Seminary, was reassigned as the interim rector of the St. Paul’s Cathedral and Office for Divine Worship, Worcester. The return to his home diocese comes after having been on sabbatical for the fall semester at the request of Cardinal O’Malley. The sabbatical was mutually agreed upon by Msgr. Moroney and Cardinal O’Malley to ensure the independence of the investigation into complaints about behavior at the seminary. As covered in the September issue of The Torch, two former seminarians made public complaints about behavior unfitting for a seminary, including drunkenness, intimidation, bullying, and sexual abuse. At the time of publication, the investigation has not yet finished its review of the seminary.
Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester released a statement praising Msgr. Moroney and his six years as rector of St. John’s. “I am now grateful that his extraordinary pastoral leadership skills will once again be placed at the service of his home diocese,” said Bishop McManus in a press release. The press release highlighted the accomplishments of Msgr. Moroney during his time at St. John’s, including increased enrollment, expanded faculty, and the establishment of an affiliation with the Pontifical University of St. Thomas.
None of the allegations regarding conduct at the seminary have been directed at Msgr. Moroney, but the decision to quietly reassign him has been taken by some as a sign of mismanagement. Terry McKiernan, co-director of the watchdog group Bishop Accountability, said, “Clearly he is not being invited back [to St. John’s] and that’s significant. But the way this reassignment is being reported conceals from us basic information that we really do need to have.”
On his blog, SJSRector, Msgr. Moroney announced, “I look forward to this assignment with the same eager joy as I have for each new assignment I have received in my nearly forty years as a Priest. Needless to say, I am sad to leave Saint John’s Seminary, but I will always carry the good men and women there in my heart and in my prayers.” He also wrote that his time on sabbatical had given him time to realize that the challenges at St. John’s requires “a fresh approach and a renewed energy.” Mgsr. Moroney closed his last post as rector with an extended quotation from his last rector’s conference entitled, “On Leaving.” In this he wrote, “Change is good for you and for me, for each time I have been transferred I leave behind my successes, but I also leave behind my failures which, by the grace of God and the fading of the memory, will slowly disappear.”
The press report from Bishop McManus closed with a quote from Msgr. Moroney: “Over the nearly forty years since my ordination,” he reflected “my single goal has been to be of whatever service to the Church I can. I am deeply grateful for my time at Saint John’s Seminary and look forward to serving the people of Worcester in the years to come.”
Photo from "The Rector's Blog at Saint John's Seminary"