Father Gerard W. Chambers
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Placed on leave: Went on “Health Leave” 7 different times
Suits Filed: 2004
Assigned as follows:
- 1934-1935 St. Joseph (Jim Thorpe, PA)
- 1935-1936 St. Thomas the Apostle (Chester Heights, PA)
- 1936 St. Joseph (Reading, PA)
- 1936-1937 St. Mary Magdalen (Lost Creek, PA)
- 1937-1939 St. Canicus (Mahanoy City, PA)
- 1939-1941 St. Monica (Berwyn, PA)
- 1941-1943 St. Francis De Sales (Lenni, PA)
- 1943-1954 Health Leave
- 1944-1945 Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Doylestown, PA)
- 1945-1947 St. Rose of Lima (North Wales, PA)
- 1947-1948 St. Mary of the Assumption (Coaldale, PA)
- 1948-1949 St. Patrick (McAdoo, PA)
- 1949-1955 Health Leave (3x)
- 1955-1956 Nativity B.M. V. (Philadelphia, PA)
- 1956-1957 Health Leave (Villa Saint Joseph )
- 1957 St. Francis Orphanage (Orwigsburg, PA)
- 1957-1959 St. Gregory (Philadelphia, PA)
- 1959-1960 Seven Dolors (Wyndmoor, PA)
- 1960-1961 Health Leave (Villa Saint Joseph )
- 1961 St. Madeleine Sophie (Philadelphia, PA)
- 1961-1963 St. Gabriel (Stowe, PA)
- 1963-1974 Health Leave, Villa Saint Joseph
Summary of Allegations Against Father Gerard Chambers:
According to the 2005 Grand Jury Report, Father Gerard Chambers was accused of molesting numerous altar boys, and of anally and orally raping at least one, during his 40 years as a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Nearly half of those years were spent on “health leaves” and in treatment facilities.
The report alleges that each time Father Chambers returned to ministry, he was assigned to a parish with full access to children. Once, after three successive sick leaves totaling more than six years, he was assigned as chaplain to an orphanage for boys. When Father Chambers was not on sick leave, he was moved from parish to parish. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia assigned him to 17 parishes in his 21 years of active ministry.
The report also states that church officials in 1994 claim to have destroyed all of Father Chambers’ personnel records covering his career in ministry. Beginning in 1994 four of his victims came forward to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to talk about their abuse. The victims were from his fourteenth and fifteenth assignments – Saint Gregory, in West Philadelphia; and Seven Dolors, in Wyndmoor. One rape victim allegedly tried to commit suicide and has been institutionalized at a state mental hospital. Two of his brothers were also victims of Father Chambers and are still haunted by their abuse more than 40 years later. The report claims that they named several other boys from Saint Gregory whom the priest had abused. One of the brothers testified that he believed Father Chambers “sexually abused every altar boy and quite frequently those who weren’t altar boys.” The brothers of the institutionalized victim expressed anger before the Grand Jury because they know the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could have prevented the abuse that ruined their brother’s life. They, too, could tell from the list of Father Chambers’ transfers that Church officials had to have known of the priest’s crimes from the time of his earliest assignments. Father Chambers was constantly transferred, at odd times of the year, sometimes after only months in assignments, and his career was interrupted repeatedly for “health leave.”
The priest was placed on permanent health leave in 1963, at the age of 56. He died in 1974.
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