Priest Is Flying Around the Diocese; Previously Accused of Sex Advance on Seminarian

| Mar 23, 2020 | Catholic Church

A New Jersey pastor, Anthony Manuppella is in the news today, comparing himself to popes and praying in Latin while flying a plane around his diocese for two hours with a parishioner, a priest on his staff.

Fr. Anthony Manuppella told a reporter that he wants to do his part. . .to contain the Covid-19 spread and minimize its impact (while squeezing into a small airplane with at least two other men, none of them six feet away from each other).

But in a lawsuit, Fr. Manuppella – along with another priest – was accused by a young seminarian of making unwelcome advances, discussing homosexuality, asking him to join them at gay bars and talking often about “sexual acts prohibited by the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Fr. Manuppella heads St. Gianna Beretta Molla parish in Northfield, part of the Camden diocese. He denies wrongdoing.  After the suit was filed, church officials moved Fr. Manuppella to church nearly three times larger. But church public relations staffer Andrew Walton denied that it was because of the litigation.
The Camden diocese filed four motions to dismiss the case, which was brought by Christopher McKelvey of Atlantic City who was studying at St.Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.
McKelvey charged Fr. Manuppella and the Fr. William C. Pierce, another Camden priest, of the inappropriate actions.

“The complaint also accused two diocesan supervisors, including Fr.William P. Brennan and Fr. John T. Frey, of failing to investigate the allegations after they were reported” and acting “an abusive and hostile manner. . .creating a hostile working and educational environment,” according to the suit and news accounts.
Eventually, the lawsuit was dismissed when New Jersey’s highest court held that the matter violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise of Religion Clause.

Raised in Brooklyn and ordained in 1976, Fr. Manuppella worked at St. Mary Magdelen in Millville and St. Peter in Merchantville (both in the Camden diocese).
According to, the scandal-ridden Camden diocese has 66 publicly accused abusive clerics. It’s headed by Bishop Dennis Sullivan. He was once on the US Bishops Conference’s Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. Yet he keeps an accused abuser on the job in a parish, an accuser who escaped more litigation only because of smart church lawyers convinced judges that civil society shouldn’t ‘interfere’ with behavior by church officials.
For years, the diocese was headed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who was recently accused of abuse himself.
It faced the nation’s first RICO lawsuit by a priest against his supervisors, brought by Fr. Gary Hayes in 1993. Hayes went on to become a strong victims’ advocate.