DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Downingtown, Pennsylvania, priest was arrested Wednesday for diverting nearly $100,000 from parish funds into a secret account.
Monsignor Joseph McLoone, former pastor of St. Joseph's parish, the largest Catholic parish in Chester County, was arrested Wednesday on multiple felony charges.
In 2011, the priest created an off-the-books "St. Joseph Activity Account" at TD Bank. Contributions made to the church for weddings, funerals and Mass stipends were funneled into the account.
Father Joseph McLoone, a Downingtown resident, allegedly stole close to $100,000 and sent some of the money via Square to men he met on Grindr.https://t.co/T4y07gGcdG— Philly Mag (@phillymag) August 21, 2019
Within six years, according to sources, the balance showed $100,000. Off-the-books accounts are in violation of standard archdiocesan financial control practices and procedures, according to the archdiocese of Philadelphia.
McLoone had been under police investigation for the past year and under an internal investigation by the archdiocese of Philadelphia since 2017.
Prior to his arrest, McLoone withdrew roughly $46,000 in cash from the "St. Joseph's Activity Account" in Ocean City, New Jersey, where his beach house is located. Reportedly, McLoone used Grindr, an online dating app geared towards gay, bi, trans and queer people, to make hook-ups with male partners on whom he spent funds.
The 56-year-old priest also deposited $1,200 into a commissary account of an inmate in a New York correctional facility with whom he had a sexual relationship. The inmate has been identified as Brian Miller in court documents.
An official in the Chester County district attorney's office said that McLoone "violated the trust of the members of St. Joseph for his own personal gain."
According to prosecutors, McLoone used "funds to pay for dinners, travel, and a beach home."
"He also used it to give money to men that he was dating or spending time with," Chester County District Attorney Charles Gaza said.
"Father McLoone held a position of leadership and his parishioners trusted him to properly handle their generous donations to the church," Gaza said. "Father McLoone violated the trust of the members of St. Joseph's for his own personal gain."
The archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement on the McLoone matter on Aug. 21. It calls the charges "serious and disturbing," continuing to state:
Monsignor McLoone was questioned directly about these matters in the spring of 2018. At that time, he acknowledged that the existence of this account was in violation of established Archdiocesan financial controls and procedures. He further acknowledged that some expenditures from this account were for personal expenses of an inappropriate nature.
The archdiocese also stated that it "does not believe that Sunday collections, contributions to the parish capital campaign, or school and PREP tuition fees were deposited therein."
Saint Joseph parishioners called "what's going on" as "sad" and "terrible." One said, "I won't leave Jesus for Judas."
Ken Gavin, chief communications officer for the archdiocese of Philadelphia, told Church Militant that "the archdiocese did not delay in any way with an investigation. ... When the archdiocese learned of the account, immediate action was taken."
He added, "The overwhelming majority of priests are holy men of God who serve faithfully and selflessly. The stories of their good works and their sacrifice on behalf of those entrusted to their pastoral care rarely make the press."
McLoone has been charged with 18 counts, including multiple counts of felony theft, for which he is facing jail time. He is currently out on bail and remains on administrative leave.
McLoone replaced Msgr. William Lynn, who was indicted and arrested for covering up clergy sex abuse. Lynn was the first Catholic Church official in the United States convicted for illegally handling the supervision of pedophile priests.
Monsignor Thomas Dunleavy was named parochial administrator after McLoone's case reached parishioners. Father Stephen Leva is listed as current pastor on St. Joseph's website.