09/18/16

Should St. Ann parishioners have been told their pastor was being investigated over child porn?

by Matt Assad

Bishop John O. Barres attends Saturday Mass St. Ann's Catholic Church in Emmaus after the church's pastor John Stephen Mraz was arrested on child pornography charges.

Bishop John O. Barres attends Saturday Mass St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Emmaus after the church’s pastor John Stephen Mraz was arrested on child pornography charges.

Within hours of getting a report in August that images of nude children were found on computers owned by the pastor of St. Ann’s Church in Emmaus, the Allentown Catholic Diocese informed authorities. But for the next six Sundays — even as Lehigh County investigators sifted through photos on two laptops — parishioners were urged at Mass to pray for their pastor’s health.

Monsignor John Stephen Mraz’s arrest Tuesday on charges of possessing child pornography left some members of his congregation angry that they would be asked to remember him in their prayers without being told he was under investigation.

“It just feels like a betrayal of trust, not only by Monsignor Mraz, but by the church,” Kara Sterner said. “I was married at that church and all three of my kids were baptized there. And now I don’t feel right. I just don’t have trust anymore.”

st-ann-catholic-church

So shaken was Sterner that she held her 11-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter from religious prep classes at St. Ann on Wednesday, and she’s considering switching churches. She was among several parents who held their children from prep that night and among many who called the diocese and church office to voice their unhappiness.

The Rev. Dominic Pham, who lived with Mraz and got him to the hospital before the monsignor went to convalesce at Holy Family Villa in Bethlehem, has been fielding many of those calls. And he has a surprisingly simple answer for why, as he urged parishioners to visit Mraz in his recovery, he never told them their pastor was being investigated for child porn.

“I didn’t know. I knew he was very ill with diabetes and kidney failure, but no one told us about this,” Pham said. “I had no idea. They called us together the morning he was arrested.”

That St. Ann parishioners and staff remained unaware their pastor was under investigation for child sex crimes raises questions of whether the diocese is keeping its promise to be more transparent in the wake of the Catholic Church child sex scandal ignited by a Boston Globe investigation in 2002.

During Mass at St. Ann’s on Saturday evening, Allentown Bishop John O. Barres told parishioners that when Mraz left the parish this summer to undergo medical treatment, the events that led to his charges were unknown to anyone in the diocese. He said he understood that many were concerned about being kept in the dark, but that diocesan officials were being careful to cooperate with authorities and not interfere with the investigation.

“What happened is not a reflection of you or this parish or the school,” said Barres, who intends to address the parishioners at Sunday Masses as well. “St. Ann’s parish and St. Ann’s school are the same wonderful, valuable holy institutions that they were a week ago.”

Mraz’s arrest came more than six weeks after he asked a friend and parishioner on July 25 to perform maintenance updates on a laptop computer. According to the criminal complaint, the friend found nude images of boys in the computer’s recycling bin but didn’t come forward until Aug. 1 or 2, after he discovered a file named “naked little boys” on a second computer Mraz asked him to update.

Feeling “uncomfortable,” the friend reported what he saw to the diocese. Spokesman Matt Kerr said the diocese reported the accusation within a day to Lehigh County Children & Youth Services and the state Welfare Department’s ChildLine. A letter from diocese attorney Joseph A. Zator arrived in Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin‘s office Aug. 12, according to the criminal complaint. By Aug. 18, county detectives were serving a warrant to confiscate all of Mraz’s electronic devices, including the computers, the complaint stated.

At that point, a credible allegation had been established and for many dioceses across the nation, the policy would be to suspend the priest and tell parishioners why he was gone, said Michael Sean Winters, who writes the “Distinctly Catholic” column for the Washington D.C.-based National Catholic Reporter. That has become standard procedure, he said, in part because it could prompt parishioners who have had contact with the priest to come forward with information relevant to the investigation.

Monsignor John Stephen Mraz

Monsignor John Stephen Mraz

“They did the right thing by going to authorities immediately, but then once the allegation is determined to be credible, they have an obligation to tell parishioners that an investigation is underway,” Winters said. “It’s the way it is being done in model dioceses in places like Washington and Chicago and it’s been this way for a decade. You don’t wait until charges are filed.”

But that’s where Mraz’s case gets muddy. More than a week before his friend was reporting what he’d found on those laptops, Mraz had taken sick leave to deal with serious medical problems that included diabetes and kidney failure, Pham said. He’d collapsed at his residence and Pham called an ambulance to rush him to the hospital.

The diocese didn’t have to suspend him because he was already out of service and living at Holy Family Villa, a retirement home for priests, Kerr said.

Instead, the diocese turned the report to authorities and took a hands-off approach, Kerr said.

That left Pham in the position of stepping into the pulpit each Sunday to make an impassioned plea for people to pray and visit his ailing colleague.

The diocese was right to keep the accusation under wraps until charges were filed, Martin said.

“Are you suggesting they should have told people an investigation was going on?” he said. “That’s ridiculous. Absolute nonsense.”

Juliann Bortz, Lehigh Valley coordinator of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, doesn’t see it that way.

She said Mraz’s arrest was an opportunity for the Allentown Diocese to prove that it has learned from the past. Instead, she said, it allowed Pham to unknowingly trot out the “health issues” excuse that dioceses around the nation have used over the decades to protect priests and keep allegations from the public.

“The way they handled this is still deceptive. It just gives you the impression that they wouldn’t have come forward if they thought they could hide it,” Bortz said. “It’s terrible for people to feel that way about their church. The only way they’re going to win back that trust is if they’re completely transparent. Unfortunately, they weren’t and we’re left to wonder.”

For Bortz, the issue of trust has always been at the heart of the sex abuse scandal. It was only inflamed again in March when a Pennsylvania grand jury report accused two Catholic bishops of allowing at least 50 priests and other religious leaders to sexually abuse hundreds of children for five decades in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

Based on the grand jury report, the attorney general’s office on March 15 charged three Franciscan friars with child endangerment and criminal conspiracy. The agency also set up a tip line for people to call the agency with abuse and cover-up allegations involving diocesan officials, and announced that it would be expanding its grand jury investigation into other dioceses across the state.

On Thursday, The Morning Call reported that the Allentown and Harrisburg dioceses are among those being investigated by a new grand jury in Pittsburgh, according to state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, an abuse victim who said he recently testified before the panel in Pittsburgh. Agents from the attorney general’s office recently interviewed at least two other victims from the Allentown Diocese, according to the victims, who did not want their identity disclosed.

On Friday, four more Catholic dioceses — Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton — were added to the Pittsburgh grand jury investigation of clergy sex abuse and cover-up allegations.

Mraz, whose 41-year career includes stints as chaplain at Lehigh University and theology teacher at Central Catholic High School in Allentown before he arrived at St. Ann in 2008, was charged Tuesday with viewing and downloading child porn, which falls under the sexual abuse of children in the criminal code.

Mraz, 66, was released on $50,000 unsecured bond. His Allentown lawyer, John Waldron, said Mraz has told detectives he downloaded the images for sexual gratification.

“What he’s alleged to have done is illegal and very wrong, but there is no indication that he did anything inappropriate with a child,” Waldron said. “We expect to have him psychologically evaluated so that he can get treatment.”

The situation leaves St. Ann’s leaders to contend with the fact that some parishioners have lost trust in them. Pham said they’re fielding calls at the parish office for anyone who wants an explanation, and have made counselors available for students or parishioners who want help dealing with Mraz’s arrest.

“Some aren’t happy and some are just angry, period, that their priest is alleged to have done this,” Kerr said. “Some wish they had known about it before seeing it online.”

In some ways, knowing that Pham was kept in the dark is helping Sterner deal with it. Maybe her diocese wasn’t open with her, but Pham wasn’t part of that, she said.

“I’m not sure why,” she said, “but it makes a difference for me.”

Still, she’s debating whether to leave for neighboring St. Thomas More in Salisbury Township.

Pham will continue to step into the pulpit to ask people to pray.

“Pray for us all at St. Ann, pray for the monsignor and have faith in the Holy Father,” he said. “It’s OK to be confused. Believe that Christ is with us and the answers will come in time.”

Complete Article HERE!

09/17/16

Church of Ireland ‘turning blind eye’ to clergy flouting gay rules

People gathered at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle in 2015 for the historic announcement of the gay marriage referendum.

People gathered at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle in 2015 for the historic announcement of the gay marriage referendum.

A Church of Ireland cleric has slammed his own denomination for allegedly teaching traditional marriage in public but privately “turning a blind eye” to gay clergy engaging in sexual relationships.

Rev Stephen Neill – a passionate supporter of LGBT rights in the Church of Ireland (CoI) – made the allegations in this week’s edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette.

It is understood to be the first time such explosive claims have been made with such frankness about the inner workings of the CoI.

According to rules in the CoI and sister Anglican denomination the Church of England (CoE), defining oneself as gay does not preclude anyone from becoming a cleric – nor even from entering a civil partnership – so long as those involved give an undertaking to remain celibate within the arrangement.

But Rev Stephen Neill from Celbridge, near Dublin, says that the rules are being widely flouted in the CoE by clerics who publicly claim to be in celibate gay relationships which are privately sexual – and all with the full collusion of CoE bishops. Rev Neill goes on to say that the CoI is in “exactly the same dishonest position”.

His comments were prompted by the Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain of Grantham, who last week became the first Anglican bishop to openly declare his homosexuality – and that he was in a relationship, which he said was celibate.

Rev Neill said the bishop’s relationship was “the worst-kept secret in the church”.

Bishop Grantham’s ‘secret’ was also known to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Lincoln and many others.

Rev Neill went on to quote CoE cleric Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who stated that “quietly” across the CoE “clergy are getting married or converting their civil partnerships to marriage; gay ordinands in sexual relationships are getting the nod through while appearing to comply with the selection procedures; and clergy are having sex in their civil partnerships”.

Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain had said last month: “Priests are offering services of blessing and thanksgiving to gay and lesbian couples and parishes celebrating with them. The bishops all know this and many even collude in the dishonesty around the current position with private words of support and public obedience to the official line.

“One recently married priest I know of was invited into the episcopal study, handed his letter of discipline and then the bishop’s wife arrived with two gin and tonics – and as she said ‘Congratulations’, the bishop toasted the new couple.”

Rev Neill, whose father is the retired Archbishop of Dublin, said he despaired over the lack of honesty in the CoE – “but we in the Church of Ireland find ourselves in exactly the same dishonest position”.

He added: “There are, just as in the Church of England, many informal arrangements and turnings of a blind eye in our own Church of Ireland”.

He went on to affirm that he was one of those who “fervently believe that same-sex relationships should be recognised and affirmed without qualification by our Church”.

Scott Holden, Chair of CoI LGBT lobby group Changing Attitudes Ireland estimates there are some 65 gay clergy in the CoI out of 500 overall.

But Rev Dr Alan McCann, Rector of Holy Trinity in Carrickfergus and treasurer of conservative CoI lobby group ‘Reform Ireland’, challenged Rev Neill’s claims – and called on the CoI bishops to clarify what is happening in the wider denomination.

“He speaks of a blind eye being turned to such arrangements in the CoI,” Rev McCann said, “If that is the case, and he doesn’t document them, then the House of Bishops need to be honest with the church that they have such a policy in place. If such a policy is in place and they are turning a blind eye to sinful relationships amongst the clergy then they are failing in their vows as Bishops and that would place many of us in a very difficult relationship to our bishop [assuming they were turning a blind eye to such].

“I have not heard of such a protocol or guidelines existing in the CoI.”

He believed Rev Neill was raising the issue as he and other liberals had been “emboldened” by the Bishop of Grantham revelations about his gay relationship. He also believed liberals had been emboldened by the fact that no disciplinary action has been taken against Dean Tom Gordon from Carlow and the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory who appointed him. Dean Gordon revealed he was in a civil partnership in 2011 and remains a CoI cleric in good standing.

Rev McCann added that Rev Neill and others are departing from Scripture and from the historical teaching of the church, reaffirmed in General Synod 2012. “He can advocate change but he cannot change the teaching of Scripture and to do so is heretical”.

He added: “Mr Neill has called for honesty – and that is a good thing. The shadowboxing is coming to an end and we cannot ignore the fact that a realignment is happening all across the Anglican Communion and the CoI will not be immune from it.”

A CoI spokesman said it was not “appropriate” to comment on the “dialogue” between the two clerics.

“However, with regard to the question of there being any policy of ‘turning a blind eye’ to the sexual relationships of clergy, I would confirm that there is no such policy in the Church of Ireland.”

There has not been any disciplinary action taken towards the Very Revd Tom Gordon or his bishop, Michael Burrows, he said.

He reiterated that the Church passed a resolution at its General Synod in 2012 by 245 to 115 votes which clarifies that marriage “is between a man and a woman”.

The spokesman said that after same-sex marriage was enshrined in law in the Republic of Ireland last year, bishops wrote to clergy there and “encouraged restraint by any cleric who might consider entering a same-sex marriage, for the sake of unity and in order to be respectful of the principles of others”.

The letter acknowledged that “all are free to exercise their democratic entitlements once enshrined in legislation” but that members of the clergy are “bound by the ordinal and by the authority of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland”.

Complete Article HERE!

09/17/16

“The world is tired of dishonest charmers, fashionable priests and leaders of pointless crusades”

In his address to new bishops attending their annual formation course, the Pope urged them to make mercy pastoral, to do their utmost to reach out to God’s people and be close to fragile families. In the seminaries, he advised them to aim for quality not quantity and not to trust those who retreat into a rigid way of thinking

Francis to newly-appointed bishops: “The world is tired of dishonest charmers, fashionable priests and leaders of pointless crusades”

Francis to newly-appointed bishops: “The world is tired of dishonest charmers, fashionable priests and leaders of pointless crusades”

By iacvopo scaramuzzi

“The world is tired of dishonest charmers… And, I dare say, ‘fashionable’ priests and bishops. People sense this, the people of God have this sense and they refuse and distance themselves when they recognise narcissists, manipulators, defenders of their own causes, leaders of pointless crusades.” Pope Francis addressed a long speech to newly appointed bishops attending a training course in Rome, touching on a number of aspects relating to their ministry. He started with the importance of making mercy pastoral, in other words “accessible, tangible and possible to find,” “mercy” being “the essence of what God offers the world”. Bishops, Francis said, must be capable of seducing and attracting men and women of our time to God, without “complaints”, “leav[ing] no stone unturned in order to reach them, and spare no effort in recovering them”. Bishops must also be capable of initiating their Churches (“Today we ask for too much fruit from trees that have not been sufficiently cultivated”). Francis then asked them to take special care of “the structures of initiation of your Churches, especially the seminaries”, focusing on the “quality of the discipleship” rather than on the “quantity” of seminarians. The Pope beseeched bishops “to act with great prudence and responsibility in welcoming candidates or incardinating priests in your local Churches”. Francis also invited bishops to be close to their clergy, who were placed along their path “by chance” as well as families with their “fragility”.

“Ask God, who is full of mercy, what the secret is for making his mercy pastoral in your dioceses,” Francis said in his speech to the 154 new bishops (16 from missionary territories) who took part in the annual training course jointly organised by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. “Mercy must form and inform the pastoral structures of your Churches. … Do not be afraid of proposing mercy as the essence of what God offers the world because there is no greater thing the heart can aspire to. As my venerable and wise predecessor taught, ‘it is mercy that puts an end to evil,” Francis said quoting Benedict XVI, adding two rhetorical questions: “Can our insecurities and mistrust perchance inspire tenderness and consolation in the midst of solitude and abandonment?”

To make mercy “accessible, tangible and possible to find,” the Pope recalled first and foremost that “a remote and indifferent god can even be ignored, but one does not so easily resist a God Who is so close, and wounded out of love. Goodness, beauty, truth, love – this is what we can offer to this begging world, even if it is in half-broken bowls. However, it is not about attracting to oneself. The world is tired of dishonest charmers. And, I dare say, ‘fashionable’ priests and bishops. People sense this, the people of God have this sense and they refuse and distance themselves when they recognise narcissists, manipulators, defenders of their own causes, leaders of pointless crusades. Rather, seek to follow God, Who already introduces Himself before your arrival. … God never gives up! Instead we, accustomed to surrender, who often give in, preferring to allow ourselves to be convinced that truly they were able to eliminate him and invent bitter discourses to justify the idleness that blocks us in the immobile sound of vain complaints. It is horrible when a bishop complains.”

Secondly, the Pope said it is essential to “initiate” those who are entrusted to pastors: “Please, I ask you to have no other perspective from which to look upon your faithful other than that of their uniqueness; leave no stone unturned in order to reach them, and spare no effort in recovering them. Be bishops capable of initiating your Churches in this abyss of love. Today,” Francis underlined, “we ask for too much fruit from trees that have not been sufficiently cultivated. The sense of initiation has been lost, and yet the truly essential things in life may be reached solely through initiation. Think of the educational crisis, the transmission of both content and values, emotional illiteracy, vocational paths, discernment in families, the search for peace: all these require initiation and journeys guided with perseverance, patience and constancy, the signs that distinguish the good shepherd from the hireling”.

Francis focused his attention especially on the formation of future priests: “I urge you to take special care of the structures of initiation of your Churches, especially the seminaries. Do not allow yourselves to be tempted by numbers, by the quantity of vocations. Seek instead the quality of the discipleship. Do not deprive seminarians of your firm and loving fatherly touch. Let them grow until they are free to be with God “as calm and peaceful as a child weaning in its mother’s arm”, not prisoners of their own whims, overcome by fragility but free to embrace all that God asks of them, even when this is not as pleasant as the maternal womb was at the start. Beware also of seminarians who retreat into a rigid way of thinking – there is always something ugly beneath the surface”. “I also beg you to act with great prudence and responsibility in welcoming candidates or incardinating priests in your local Churches. Remember that from the very beginning the relationship between a local Church and her priests is inseparable, and a vagrant clergy in transit from one place to another is never accepted”.

Finally, quoting the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Pope said bishops should be “capable of accompanying”: “Be bishops with a heart wounded by a mercy like this, tireless in the humble task of accompanying the man that God, ‘by chance’, has placed in your way.” Francis had another request for bishops: “Accompany first, and with patient care, your clergy” and “reserve special accompaniment for all families, rejoicing with their generous love and encouraging the immense good they bestow in this world. Be watchful, above all, of those that are most wounded. Do not pass over their fragility.”

“I am pleased to welcome you and to share with you some thoughts that spring to the Successor of Peter’s mind when he has before him those who have been “fished” from God’s heart, to lead his Holy People,” the Pope had started by saying. “May God save you from rendering this thrill fruitless, from taming it and emptying it of its ‘destabilising” power”. Let yourselves be destabilised, it’s good for bishops,” Francis said. “Many people these days mask and conceal themselves. They like to construct personalities and invent profiles. … They are unable to bear the thrill of knowing that they are known by Someone Who is greater and Who does not despise our littleness, Who is more Holy and does not reproach our weakness, Who is truly good and is not scandalised by our wounds. May it not be so for you,” he concluded, “let that thrill run through you, do not remove it or silence it”.

Complete Article HERE!

09/16/16

Diocese, Holy Cross fight to keep abuse documents secret in ‘spotlight’ case

By Daniel Tepfer

Cardinal Edward Michael Egan receives communion from his succesor Bishop William E. Lori during Lori's installation as the fourth Bishop of Bridgeport in 2001.

Cardinal Edward Michael Egan receives communion from his succesor Bishop William E. Lori during Lori’s installation as the fourth Bishop of Bridgeport in 2001.

Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport and the international Congregation of Holy Cross urged a judge Thursday not to make public hundreds of documents detailing how priest abuse was handled by bishops Edward Egan and William Lori.

“If there is a letter to the diocese that we heard father so-and-so had done this thing and this information, if it were made public, would taint this priest,” Diocese lawyer Ernest J. Mattei told Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis.

It’s been more than 10 years since the diocese paid more than $15 million to more than two dozen people who claimed they were abused by priests when they were children. And then there was the award-winning movie “Spotlight,” about the abuse cases in Boston that many thought had closed the door on the whole abuse scandal.

But for more than two years, three local lawyers, Jason Tremont, Cindy Robinson and Douglas Mahoney, who represent five alleged victims of four priests, have been battling with the lawyers for the diocese in Superior Court here.

Their victims were all altar boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s who claim they were abused by Rev. Martin Federici in St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Norwalk and St. Edward the Confessor in New Fairfield; The Rev. Walter Coleman at St. Patrick’s Church in Bridgeport; The Rev. James Gildea at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield; and Robert Morrissey at St. Mary’s High School in Greenwich.

Bishop William E. Lori installation as the forth Bishop of Bridgeport in 2001.

Bishop William E. Lori installation as the forth Bishop of Bridgeport in 2001.

All the priests are on a list of “Credibly Accused Diocesan Priests,” on the diocese’s website.

In 2004, Bishop Lori released a study about the problem of sexual abuse of children in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Bishop Lori is quoted as saying “The John Jay analysis for the Diocese of Bridgeport represents an important step in our desire to let everyone know what took place,” Mahoney said. “In 2016, there is a new bishop and we are once again faced with motions seeking confidentiality similar to what we saw in the 1990s under Bishop Egan. As we have learned, it is only by shining a spotlight on the issue of clergy sex abuse can we make our children safe.”

None of the lawyers for the diocese nor the Congregation of Holy Cross would comment on the case.

The lawyers for the diocese had already been ordered by Judge Bellis to turn over all the documents regarding abuse allegations against the four priests, but then filed a motion to prevent Tremont, Robinson and Mahoney from making any of the documents public.

“The Diocese has agreed to and has spent many, many hours satisfying Tremont and Sheldon’s discovery demand to review and disclose any and all information found in priest personnel files, including priests not accused of anything,“ the Diocese said in a statement late Thursday. “Their request has been extremely broad and has involved the personnel records of numerous priests with long and successful careers who have never had an allegation brought against them. These priests are not in any way implicated in the current cases, and the Diocese has complied with the request, producing the documents. However, it is seeking to limit the use of this information outside of the current cases at issue.”

The Rev. Robert Morrissey pictured at St. Mary's Church in Ridgefield, Conn. is accused of abusing altar boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Mary's High School in Greenwich.

The Rev. Robert Morrissey pictured at St. Mary’s Church in Ridgefield, Conn. is accused of abusing altar boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Mary’s High School in Greenwich.

“This information is not intended to titillate the public,” argued Gina Bonoehsen, the lawyer for the Congregation of Holy Cross, an international society of more than 1,200 brothers and priests.

But Mahoney pointed out that many of these so-called secret diocese documents include letters to the editor and magazine articles about the abuse scandal.

“I don’t see any reason to protect these documents,” the judge agreed.

Bellis gave the diocese’s lawyers until Sept. 26 to give the plaintiffs’ lawyers documents it doesn’t think the public should see.

Tremont, Robinson and Mahoney then have until Oct. 3 to disagree with what the diocese submitted and then the judge would make a decision on Oct. 11.

Complete Article HERE!

09/13/16

Friend Finds Child Porn on Lehigh Valley Catholic Priest’s Laptop: DA

Monsignor John Mraz (inset) faces child porn charges in the Lehigh Valley.

Monsignor John Mraz (inset) faces child porn charges in the Lehigh Valley.

A Roman Catholic priest, who used to serve as pastor for a Lehigh Valley church and as an educator at various area Catholic schools, faces child pornography charges after asking a friend and parishioner to upgrade his computer.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced child sex abuse charges Tuesday morning against Monsignor John Mraz, 66, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Mraz faces the sex abuse charges in connection to downloading child porn, said investigators.

Some of the terms Mraz searched for online included “nude boys wrestling,” “teen boys spanked,” “small boy nudes,” “handcuffed nude boys,” “boy bondage” and other terms involving boys and sexual acts, said police.

The charges stemmed from when Mraz, who formerly served as pastor at St. Ann’s Church along S 6th Street in Emmaus, gave his HP laptop to a parishioner – identified by the DA as D.M. – to perform maintenance and upgrade the computer in late July.

D.M. discovered files depicting nude males of unknown ages in the computer’s recycling bin, said the district attorney’s office in a news release.

D.M. made the upgrades and returned the laptop to Mraz who then asked D.M. to upgrade a second, older laptop, said the DA.

“In the process of upgrading the second laptop, D.M. discovered a file with a name suggesting it contained obscene images of underage males,” said the DA’s office.  “These discoveries made D.M. uncomfortable, and he informed the Diocese of Allentown about what he had found on Mraz’s laptops.”

The diocese then alerted the district attorney’s office, which in turn investigated and searched Mraz’s home at the Emmaus church, taking various electronic devices, said the DA.

“As a result of the analysis, it is alleged that the user of the devices actively searched the Internet looking for images and videos of underage males engaged in sex acts,” said the DA’s office. “It is alleged that numerous image files of child pornography were on the devices as well.”

Among the numerous images of nude boys under the age of 18 recovered from Mraz’s computers was at least one photo of boys involved in a sex act, said an affidavit of probable cause.

Investigators determined Mraz downloaded the photos “for his own sexual gratification,” said the DA’s office.

In a statement, the diocese said it removed Mraz — who has been a priest for 41 years –and that he can no longer present himself as a priest.

Over his four decades as a priest, Mraz worked at various Catholic schools including Allentown Central and was vice principal at Marian High in Tamaqua. He also served as chaplain at the Newman Center at Lehigh University, said the diocese. He was a priest at St. Ann’s since 2008.

A judge arraigned Mraz, who now lives at Holy Family Villa for Priests in Bethlehem, Tuesday morning and set bail at $50,000. He faces an Oct. 3 preliminary hearing.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Mraz said he couldn’t make any comment without his attorney present. He did however reveal he has been hospitalized since July 8.

Complete Article HERE!