February 22, 2005

Mendham pastor resigns suddenly

Daily Record

By Abbott Koloff, Daily Record

MENDHAM -- The Rev. Philip Briganti has resigned as pastor of St. Joseph's Church less than a year after he took over a parish that has been at the center of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal in New Jersey.

Church officials said on Monday that Briganti, a longtime military chaplain, will be replaced immediately by Monsignor Joseph Anginoli, pastor of St. Simon the Apostle in Rockaway Township. They did not say why Briganti decided to step down but said it was the priest's decision and was not forced on him.

Briganti did not attend Mass at St. Joseph's this past weekend and parishioners said they were told he was ill. Church officials said on Monday that something came up in Briganti's personal life that made it difficult for him to continue as pastor. They would not be more specific.

"Father Briganti has encountered a distressful situation in his personal life which could render ineffective his mission as pastor," said Marianna Thompson, a spokeswoman for Bishop Arthur Serratelli of the Paterson Roman Catholic Diocese.

That "distressful situation" apparently involves a police investigation, according to church officials, but those who know about the investigation said it does not involve allegations of criminal wrongdoing against Briganti. They said Briganti was not a suspect in the investigation. Church officials said that any information would have to come from law enforcement authorities.

Posted by kshaw at February 22, 2005 07:16 AM