Father Mark Fernandes
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Administrative leave: 2006-2007
Leave of Absence for Health: 2007-2009
Permanently Restricted: 2013
Current affiliation with Archdiocese of Philadelphia: unknown
Assigned as follows:
- Assumption B.V.M. (West Grove, PA)
- Holy Cross (Springfield, PA)
- Chaplain, Grand View Hospital (Sellersville, PA)
- St. Agnes (Sellersville, PA)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Mark Fernandes:
Father Mark Fernandes was one of 21 priests placed on administrative suspension following the release of the second grand jury report in 2011. The second grand jury identified more than 30 priests in active ministry despite the fact that they had allegations of sexual misconduct in their personnel files.
No details were offered to the public about the details of the allegation(s) against Fernandes. However, based upon our experience with the modus operandi of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and elsewhere, there are definite red flags in Fernandes’ relatively brief assignment history. For example, an administrative leave followed by a health leave suggests that he may have been removed pending an investigation into an allegation of misconduct, and then sent for type of inpatient evaluation and treatment. This is a pattern seen over and over in cases of sexual abuse of minors in Philadelphia. Add to it that Fernandes’ first assignment after a health leave was a hospital chaplaincy, rather than a parish assignment, and there are far more questions here than answers. Of course, we cannot say with certainty what happened without seeing Fernandes’ personnel files, but there are definite red flags to investigate.
At any rate, in 2013 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s internal review board determined that, in its view, Fernandes did not commit sexual abuse of a minor, but he did violate the standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries. This rendered him unsuitable for further ministry, and Cardinal Rigali agreed, publicly announcing not long after that Fernandes would not return to active ministry. What Rigali did not explain was how Fernandes, who had been a priest for a relatively short amount of time, remained a priest despite what apparently proved to be an easily investigated and substantiated allegation of misconduct.
No additional information about Fernandes’ violations was provided to the public, except for a general statement that priests removed for that reason generally had “boundary issues with children.” According to media reports, “Church officials have declined to release details on specific accusations but say boundary issues can include inappropriate talk or contact, sharing alcohol or pornography with minors or other conduct that may be construed as “grooming” a victim.”
Another priest, Father Zachary Navit, was found to have violated the standards of ministerial behavior, but the same announcement that announced Fernandes’ permanent restriction also stated that Navit could return to ministry because he posed no danger to children. This suggests that the review board concluded that the same could not be said of Fernandes and the likelihood that children would be safe around him.
Fernandes’ current status with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is unknown. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has not announced his laicization (removal from the priest), which suggests that he remains a priest with restricted faculties.
Fernandes is 45 years old. Based upon public records, he appears to be residing in a private residence near a public high school in northern Philadelphia.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org today.