Fr. Michael Murtha – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Michael Murtha

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Ordained: 1993

Inpatient treatment: 1995

Reassigned to ministry: 1996

Assigned as follows:

  • 1993-1996 St. Anselm (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1995 Inpatient treatment (Villa St. John Vianney)
  • 1996-2001 St. Ann (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2001-2002 Holy Innocents (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 2002-2004 Sacred Heart (Manoa, PA)
  • 2004-2005 Not listed in The Official Catholic Directory
  • 2005-2006 Sacred Heart (Manoa, PA)
  • 2006-2007 St. Michael the Archangel (Levittown, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Michael Murtha:

In 1995, just two short years after Father Michael Murtha was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, another priest at St. Anselm’s parish reported to the Archdiocese that he found disturbing materials in Murtha’s bedroom at the rectory. His report to the Chancery came after the pastor at the parish refused to do anything to address the materials.

Specifically, the priest reported to the Chancery that he found “images of violent sex acts against children,” along with a “sexually explicit love letter” written to a seventh grade boy.  It ended by telling the boy that if he was interested in having sex with the priest, he should respond by writing “the word ‘yes’ on a real small piece of paper and stick[ing] it behind the border on the school bulletin board that has the student pictures of the week on it.”  Murtha later admitted that both the pornography and letter were his.

As a result of his admission, Murtha was ordered to report to Villa St. John Vianney, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, that is owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Murtha and the Diocese Secretary for Clergy, Msgr. William Lynn, agreed that parishioners would be told that Murtha was being hospitalized for high blood pressure and weight management issues, so that no one would suspect that Murtha was really a danger to children.  Lynn also told Murtha that he did not “condone” the behavior of the priest who reported him, for it was disloyal to Murtha, a fellow priest.

After his discharge from St. John Vianney in 1996, Murtha was reassigned to ministry in multiple parishes.  His parishioners were never told of his dubious history.

Murtha continued in ministry until 2007.  Why he left ministry at that time is not clear, nor is whether he resigned ministry voluntarily or was removed by the Cardinal.    

According to media reports, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told reporters that Murtha’s case was “sent to the Vatican” for involuntary laicization in 2008.  Yet Murtha’s name does not appear on any of the lists of accused priests affiliated with the Archdiocese, including those laicized and those whose laicization cases are still pending.  His current status with the Archdiocese is not clear. During Msgr. Lynn’s 2011 criminal trial for child endangerment, the Archdiocese failed to respond to media requests about Murtha’s status as a priest even then.   

Murtha is believed to be alive but his current whereabouts are unknown.

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 adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.