In a recent development, Father Paschal Morlino, a Benedictine monk, has been suspended from his ministry in Baltimore after the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore became aware of a payment he made several years ago to settle sexual harassment allegations. Father Morlino, who had been serving at St. Benedict Church in southwest Baltimore for nearly four decades, was known for his dedication to assisting residents in impoverished neighborhoods surrounding the church. However, his tenure has now come to an end following the revelation of this settlement.
The Archdiocese learned of the settlement when it was brought to their attention by reporters from The Baltimore Banner. In response, they initiated an internal investigation and subsequently decided to dismiss Father Morlino from his pastoral position. A statement from the Archdiocese announced that he is “no longer permitted to celebrate Mass or engage in public ministry in the Archdiocese.”
Father Morlino, aged 85, has returned to the Saint Vincent Archabbey in Pennsylvania, the oldest Benedictine monastery in the country. This decision to suspend his priestly faculties was made jointly by the Baltimore Archdiocese and the Order of Saint Benedict, and the investigation into the allegations is still ongoing.
Kim Metzgar, the communications director for Saint Vincent Archabbey, declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation.
The Archdiocese has also stated that they will appoint a new administrator to oversee St. Benedict Church, which is owned and operated by the Benedictines.
Details about the 2018 complaint against Father Morlino are scarce, with church officials only revealing that it pertained to the “alleged sexual harassment of an adult man” who had unfortunately passed away before the complaint was filed. The Archdiocese has been unable to corroborate these third-party allegations.
In an interview with The Banner, Father Morlino confirmed that a $200,000 settlement had been made but adamantly denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he wanted to “keep [the complainant] quiet” as the individual was “stirring up trouble.” The complainant passed away in 2020, and an attorney who represented him did not provide an immediate response for comment.
Father Morlino arrived at St. Benedict in 1984 during a period of declining church membership and waning interest. During his tenure, he spearheaded efforts to update church facilities and strengthen the parish’s mission. Prior to his service in Baltimore, Father Morlino founded Adelphoi Village, a nonprofit child care agency working with at-risk youth in Pennsylvania.
This suspension has raised concerns and questions about the handling of allegations within the Catholic Church, and it remains to be seen how the investigation will unfold and what the implications will be for Father Morlino’s future in the church.