Local priest placed on administrative leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct

The following is a statement from the Archdiocese of Kingston regarding priest Robert J. Chisholm, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish in Picton, Ont.

Recently the Archdiocese of Kingston became aware of a historical report about Reverend Robert J. Chisholm, Pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Picton, relating that in the mid-1990s he was investigated for possible violations of appropriate conduct with minors. The Archdiocese has investigated this report and has found a semblance of truth. In accordance with the norms of the Church and in conformity to the mandate of the Holy Father, these allegations are being forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pending receipt of instructions from the Congregation, Father Chisholm has been placed on indefinite Administrative Leave, without faculties to exercise priestly ministry, effective immediately. This is done without prejudice to the presumption of innocence, which is afforded to him by the law. The Archdiocese will continue to monitor the situation and will cooperate fully with appropriate authorities, with particular concern for any potential victims. All inquiries relating to this matter must be directed to the Archdiocesan Spokesman, Deacon Bill Gervais, at [email protected] or 613-548-4461 ext. 116.

Chisholm faced public scrutiny earlier this year when he published a note in a newsletter to all parishioners urging them not to participate in any pride activities in June 2019. In that note, Chisholm stated that pride events were indicative of a culture “contrary to Christian faith and morals.” This prompted a protests in Picton, and a groundswell of support for pride and LGBTQ+ events in Picton.

UPDATE (Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 2:05 p.m.): Deacon Bill Gervais of the Archbishop’s Delegate for Professional Conduct responded to questions from Kingstonist regarding this incident. Citing “privacy concerns,” Gervais stated his response to questions would be limited.

Gervias said the current Archbishop, the Most Rev. Michael Mulhall, “became aware of the matter reported through our diocesan website shortly after being installed as the Archbishop of Kingston.” Mulhall was named Archbishop of Kingston on Saturday, Mar. 30, 2019, and was installed as Archbishop of Kingston on Friday, May 3, 2019. According to Gervais, Mulhall became aware of the issue in early July of 2019.

“Following the Canadian Conference of Bishop’s guidelines and the expectations mandated by Rome, he immediately looked into the matter, which prompted him to take the action that he did: Placing Father Chisholm on indefinite administrative leave and having the matter further investigated,” Gervais said.

“At this time the matter will be sent to Rome who review the file and they will provide further instructions. It is difficult for me to predict what Rome will advise. I can say that Rome treats all allegations seriously.”

Gervais stated that no police are involved in the matter at this time, but that the Archdiocese “will cooperate fully with all and any authorities who contact us.”

UPDATE (Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, 6 p.m.): Kingstonist reached out to the Prince Edward Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), which is the law enforcement agency responsible for Picton, Ont., to ask if they were aware of this matter and if they are looking into it.

“The OPP at Prince Edward are not currently involved in an investigation,” Const. Karen German said in an email to Kingstonist.

“If there is evidence to support an investigation, the Prince Edward OPP will follow it up according to our organization’s policies and procedures.”

Kingstonist is continuing to look into this matter and will update this article when more information becomes available.

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