Priest paying back money misused from charitable account, no criminal charges filed

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected] | September 18th, 2017 4:51 pm

A Catholic priest who resigned after he misused approximately $130,000 in charitable funds from the St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Kingston won’t face criminal charges and has paid back more than half of the money, the Diocese of Scranton said.

An investigation by the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office determined Rev. John J. Chmil, former pastor of the parish, apparently did not personally profit and will not be charged, Diocese spokesman William Genello said Monday.

“These conclusions, however, neither justify nor excuse the misuse of parish charitable funds. To date, Father Chmil has repaid approximately $72,000 in an effort to restore the misused funds,” Genello said in a prepared statement.

The amount in question exceeded what can be used at the discretion of the pastor from the charitable fund and from parish savings without approval from the Diocese and the parish finance council, the diocese said.

Chmil resigned as pastor from the parish after the discovery in May of his misuse of charitable funds. The Ashley native who had been pastor since June 2015 admitted he misued money from the parish’s St. Vincent DePaul account. The diocese said it would cooperate with law enforcement in an investigation into alleged criminal activity on Chmil’s part.

“He was cleared of criminal wrongdoing,” Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said Monday.

With no charges pending, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera intends “to return Father Chmil to service in the Diocese of Scranton in a suitable ministry at an appropriate time,” the Diocese said.

The diocese reiterated its position that clergy, religious and lay personnel who are involved in the administration of parish finances to “act as proper stewards” and follow established protocols to ensure that charitable funds are distributed not only in accordance with state, federal and canon law, but also with “the intention of those parishioners whose hard-earned money form the basis of our charitable accounts.”

By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.