NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — The pastor who reportedly asked Catholic school students “completely inappropriate” questions during confession earlier this year has been reassigned to a Narragansett parish.
The Diocese of Providence confirmed Monday that Father Eric Silva will officially begin his new assignment as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish on Aug. 15.
But SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, claims Silva has already been conducting mass in Narragansett for several weeks.
Silva was placed on administrative leave back in February amid an investigation into conversations he had with several students at the Immaculate Conception Regional Catholic School.
The questions Silva asked the students have not been made public, though the Diocese described the conversations as “errors in pastoral judgment.”
Principal Andrea Spaziante previously explained that Silva was invited to the school as a last-minute substitute. Spaziante has since barred him from returning to the church and school in the future.
In response to the allegations, the Diocese stripped Silva of his role as assistant pastor at St. Luke’s Parish in Barrington.
The Diocese said Silva “deeply regrets any unintentional distress he caused to individual students and the community at large.”
When asked about Silva’s new assignment, the Diocese explained that Silva undergone the pastoral reflection and formation that was asked of him while on leave.
Silva was given permission to return to active ministry last month and “has been assisting at parishes” ever since, according to the Diocese.
“Father Eric Silva is a fine priest and I am confident that he will serve his parish community very well,” Bishop Thomas Tobin said. “Father Silva has done everything we have asked him to do, I trust him completely, and it’s time for him to get back to work.”
But SNAP expressed concerns that “history could repeat itself” in the Diocese, especially since Tobin hasn’t detailed the complaints against Silva.
SNAP also noted that, on St. Thomas More Parish’s August schedule, Silva is listed as “Fr. Eric,” while all of the other priests are listed under their surnames.
“Countless times in the past, Catholic officials have placed suspended priests back into parishes, only later having to remove them again when additional accusations are reported,” SNAP wrote.