CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Catholic school priest has been placed on administrative leave amid an investigation into “completely inappropriate” questions he reportedly asked students during confession last week.
Rev. Eric Silva has been barred from the Immaculate Conception Regional Catholic School in Cranston following numerous complaints from parents regarding the conversations he had with students, according to an email sent by Principal Andrea Spaziante.
“I am angry, frustrated, and sad,” Spaziante wrote. “Over the last six years, we have all created a community based on trust, love, compassion, understanding, and faith. In a short two-hour time period, a trusted adult has come in and rocked our community.”
Silva, the assistant pastor at St. Luke’s Parish in Barrington, visited the Cranston school as “a last-minute substitute priest” last Tuesday, according to Spaziante.
“Father Eric Silva will never be invited to our church or school again under our leadership,” she added.
The questions Silva asked students have not been made public, though the Diocese of Providence has opened an investigation into Silva’s “errors in pastoral judgment.”
The Diocese said Silva “deeply regrets any unintentional distress he caused to individual students and the community at large.”
While on leave, Silva is not allowed to practice public ministry. The Diocese has also stripped him of his role as assistant pastor at St. Luke’s.
“The church places great responsibility on the priest as confessor to exercise prudence, discretion, and attentiveness to the age of penitents,” Bishop Thomas Tobin said. “Confession must always be an opportunity to experience God’s mercy and peace. It is truly unfortunate whenever that doesn’t take place in confession.”
“I have asked Father Silva to take this period of leave as an opportunity to reflect on these priestly responsibilities and to engage in additional formation,” he continued.