Former Darien-based priest resigns in wake of complaints of inappropriate behavior
The Rev. Frank Gomez, who served as parochial vicar for St. John Parish in Darien from May 2009 until January 2014, recently resigned the priesthood, according to the Diocese of Bridgeport, following allegations of behavior that “crossed boundaries.”
A decree issued by Bishop Frank Caggiano, head of the Diocese of Bridgeport, which includes Darien, said over the summer, he received concerns raised by the members of St. Charles Parish in Bridgeport about Gomez that were “neither illegal or immoral in nature.”
However, Caggiano said the complaints “involved serious boundary violations with minors and violated the diocesan code of conduct.”
The bishop then asked Gomez to step away from active ministry and “take up residency in an appropriate health care facility.” As a result, Gomez admitted himself to the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pa., on Thursday, July 19.
The Saint John Vianney Center’s website says it “provides a residential health and wellness program for stabilization and treatment for Clergy and Religious with behavioral health and emotional problems, co-occurring disorders and compulsive behaviors, weight management issues, and challenged spiritual wellness.”
The violations of the code of conduct, as per the diocese, were texting of minors over a signficant period of time without parental knowledge or consent, offering gifts to minors without prior parental consent, and some physical interaction that, while not sexual in nature, made both the minors and adults present uncomfortable.
On Friday, Aug. 17, the professionals caring for Gomez recommended he continue his assessment and treatment at the Southdown Institute in Canada. The bishop agreed, “knowing such treatment would be necessary for Father Gomez’s well-being and for any possible future ministry in the Diocese.”
Gomez refused to admit himself to Southdown and “after discernment and consultation,” said he decided “to leave priestly ministry permanently.”
Caggiano said after Gomez refused to comply with the recommendations of the professionals, and asked to be dismissed, he declared “Father Gomez is henceforth impeded from the exercise of the Sacred Order of Priesthood.”
Gomez was installed as the new Dean of the City of Bridgeport by Caggiano last February in a Mass held at St. Charles Borromeo Church.
The installation featured Mass and the attendance of every member of the “large and enthusiastic” St. Charles Youth Group, according to the diocese website.
The new Deanery model, introduced by Caggiano last April, replaced the former vicariate structure related to the territorial organization of the diocese. Deanery A includes the 11 parishes and St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport. The deaneries are designed to assist the Bishop and priests in regional planning and decision-making, and improve collaboration between parishes.
Gomez was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, and was ordained a Priest of Jesus Christ for the Diocese of Bridgeport on May 16, 2009.
Bishop Caggiano appointed him pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, the largest parish in the Park City, in April, 2015. Gomez also served as the Episcopal Master of Ceremonies/Secretary to the Bishop of Bridgeport.
Brian Wallace, communications director for the diocese, told The Darien Times that “during his tenure at St. John Parish, there were no concerns or allegations of any sort brought forward related to child sexual abuse.”
More information can be found at https://www.bridgeportdiocese.org/bishop-accepts-fr-gomez-resignation/
“It is important to emphasize that at no time has Fr. Gomez been accused of child sexual abuse,” Wallace said.
“The parents at St. Charles who came forward made that clear, but they were concerned about boundary violations such as texting, gift giving, and meeting with youth without a second adult present. Based on those reports the bishop acted swiftly and asked Fr. Gomez to step aside from ministry while the concerns were being investigated,” Wallace said.
“As a mandatory reporter, the diocese also immediately referred the concerns to the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), which did not accept it for further investigation because there were no allegations of child abuse,” Wallace added.
Erin Neil, the diocese Director of Safe Environments, can be reached at 203-416-1406 or ENeil@diobpt.org should anyone have concerns about the conduct of a clergy member.
“Certainly if parents from the parish or the general public have any concerns, they should speak to their children and report it to the police or DCF,” Wallace said.
This news follows a bombshell report out of Pennsylvania in which a grand jury found that some 300 predator priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s. The Associated Press recently reported the abuse was abetted by bishops and other high-ranking church officials who orchestrated a cover-up to avoid public scandal and financial liability. The Pennsylvania report, along with recent sexual abuse allegations against the retired archbishop of Washington, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, has plunged the Catholic Church into crisis more than 15 years after the clergy abuse scandal first broke in Boston, the AP reported.