February 25, 2006

Booted Society of St. John makes comeback on Web site

Times Leader


Though its welcome in the Diocese of Scranton was revoked, its land sold, and two of its priests faded from public view after settling a sexual abuse lawsuit, The Society of St. John has re-emerged in cyberspace, claiming a chapel in Paraguay, a post office box in Kansas and a phone number from Pittston.
The society originally came to the diocese with former Bishop James Timlin’s blessing in 1998, eventually settling in Shohola, Pike County. It promised a “Catholic city on the hill,” a new Catholic college and a return to the Latin Mass accompanied by choral chants.
But the society slid deep into debt, and two founding members, The Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey, were accused of plying underage boys with alcohol and sexually molesting them. No criminal charges were filed but a man identified as John Doe filed a federal lawsuit that was settled last year by the various defendants with payments totaling about $400,000, including $200,000 from the diocese. The priests’ attorney stressed the settlement was not an admission of guilt.
After Bishop Joseph Martino replaced the retiring Timlin, he “suppressed” the society in November 2004, essentially revoking Timlin’s initial approval that allowed it to operate in the diocese. The Shohola property, about 1,000 acres, was sold, and a diocese press release stated the transaction “was the full payment of the loan” arranged by Timlin. The diocese had guaranteed a $2.6 million loan to help the debt-ridden society.

Posted by kshaw at February 25, 2006 07:02 AM