Trenton NJ, October 3, 2013 – The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, Most Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., has formally suspended Rev. Matthew Riedlinger from all priestly ministry, including presenting himself as a priest or wearing clerical garb.
The Bishop has taken this rare, but significant, step due to Father Riedlinger’s actions which form a ‘betrayal of trust and confidence’ not only for those whom Father Riedlinger has hurt with his online and cell phone activities, but also for the Catholic community and beyond.
All information with regard to Father Riedlinger had been turned over to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Diocese will cooperate fully with them and any law enforcement agency, should further investigation into Father Riedlinger’s activities become necessary.
“I had tried from the beginning to take concerted action, but also to get help for Father Riedlinger. But the more I have learned of his actions during and subsequent to outpatient and inpatient treatment, the more it has become clear that strong, resolute and permanent action must now be taken to protect others, particularly, our youth,” said Bishop O’Connell.
“I am seeking advice from the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith with regard to the next steps, as his actions have clearly contravened his priestly vows, and, although given ample opportunity to atone for his actions and to get help for his problems, he has failed to do so.”
“I want to take this opportunity to express my sadness and regret to the parishioners of St. Aloysius and the entire Diocese, who have had to deal with rumors and innuendo surrounding his conduct as well as Father Riedlinger’s sudden removal from that parish. Although I was restricted in what I could say at the time due to privacy constraints that I would respect for anyone, nevertheless, the parish community is especially due an apology for having been put through this ordeal,” Bishop O’Connell stated.
“I wish to thank the Diocesan Review Board, the independent board advising me on our safe environment policies, which has been helpful in addressing this troubling situation as it has evolved over time.”
“As Catholics, we believe in the possibility of Redemption, and, as such, I will continue to make available whatever pastoral, medical and psychological help to Father Riedlinger that is necessary to help him turn his life around. To anyone who may have been affected by his online and texting activities, I also reach out to them with the same offer, inviting them to contact our Office of Child Protection, even if their concerns involve adults.”
Bishop O’Connell concluded, “Finally, I just wish to thank the priests of this Diocese for upholding their high standards of moral conduct, and for the compassionate way that they continue to carry out their duties and responsibilities every day in so many ways that benefit our community. We owe you an ongoing debt of gratitude and prayers.”