Jan. 31, 2022 By Christian Murray
A pastor at a Queens catholic church has been removed from the ministry.
Father John O’Connor, 54, who was a pastor at St. Gregory the Great in Bellerose has been removed from the priesthood following an investigation into sexual misconduct involving minors, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn, which serves Brooklyn and Queens.
A decision to remove him was determined by the Diocesan Review Board—an independent investigatory panel established by the diocese—following an investigation into claims that he had inappropriate internet communications with teenagers in March 2000 while assigned to St. Athanasius in Brooklyn.
The review board had been investigating the claims following a lawsuit that had been filed against O’Connor pertaining to a Child Victims Act on Aug. 13, 2020.
“This investigation turned up new evidence,” the diocese said, which provided “sufficient information to substantiate allegations of sexual misconduct with minors via the internet.”
The diocese was aware of O’Connor’s past indiscretions.
After the accusation initially surfaced in 2000, the diocese placed O’Connor on leave to enable him to receive treatment from May 2000 to August 2001. He returned to ministry in the Diocese of Brooklyn in August of 2001, and continued treatment through 2005.
O’Connor’s removal from ministry, announced today, means that he is no longer permitted to celebrate church services publicly, cannot exercise any public ministerial duties, and cannot live in an ecclesiastical residence. His name is also being added to the diocese’s List of Credibly Accused Priests, which can be viewed on its website.
O’Connor was ordained on June 23, 1993 and completed post-graduate studies in Rome. He then served at the following parishes: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Athanasius and St. Clare’s in Brooklyn. He also served as pastor at Incarnation, in Queens Village, and most recently at St. Gregory the Great. O’Connor had been named the Director of the Liturgy Office for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The diocese said that it has a zero-tolerance policy pertaining to sexual misconduct. Clergy members who are credibly accused of sexual misconduct are permanently removed from ministry.
The diocese also said that it conducts initial and ongoing background checks of all employees and volunteers and provides age-appropriate sexual abuse awareness training for children and adults.
Anyone who has been the victim of clergy sexual abuse is encouraged to report it to law enforcement or to the Toll-Free Reporting Line established by the Diocese at 1-888-634-4499. All calls are forwarded to law enforcement officials.