Cardinal apologizes for Lowell priest's remarks

BRAINTREE -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley has apologized for controversial remarks made by a Lowell priest.

Cardinal O'Malley apologized to parishioners of Holy Trinity Parish for remarks made by Msgr. Stanislaw Kempa, the parish's pastor. The letter of apology was read at a Dec. 19 Mass at Holy Trinity by North Regional Bishop Peter Uglietto.

The Lowell Sun reported that Msgr. Kempa spoke at a Dec. 11 Mass about recent allegations of sexual abuse made against the late Father Czeslaw Szymanski by three men who are former parish altar boys, now in their 30s.

Msgr. Kempa called the accusers "cowards" for accusing the late priest of molestation.

Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, said that Msgr. Kempa's comments were "unauthorized and unacceptable."

"In particular, his comments were deeply wounding to long time members of Holy Trinity Parish and contradicted the compassionate and respectful manner in which the archdiocese had been seeking to address this serious and sensitive matter," Donilon's statement also said. "We express our sincere apology that the pulpit, a place reserved for the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God, was used as a platform for harmful words to be expressed against members of their parish."

Donilon also said Msgr. Kempa has "taken responsibility" for the remarks.

Allegations against the late Father Szymanski were received by the Archdiocese of Boston earlier this month.

"We are troubled and saddened any time new allegations are brought to our attention and, today, we extend our concern and prayers for the individuals and parish communities impacted by this difficult news," said Donilon in a Dec. 9 statement.

"We have notified law enforcement of these allegations and are awaiting additional detail from the claimants," he continued.

Father Szymanski was never charged with the alleged crimes. He died in a car accident in 1987.

Father Szymanski was assigned as a parochial vicar at Holy Trinity in 1981 and served there until being transferred in 1987. He was ordained in Poland to the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit. He was not a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Associated Press materials contributed to this report.