PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia says a priest involved in online money-making promotions and suspended after federal agents seized a computer from his inner-city rectory has been barred from public ministry.
The Rev. Geraldo Pinero, who called himself “Jerry from Philly” online, stepped down as pastor of Incarnation of Our Lord in north Philadelphia following the November 2010 raid.
Archdiocese officials said in a news release Sunday that Pinero since then has been barred from public ministry and also prohibited from wearing clerical garb or presenting himself as a priest. They cited the raid and said the finding was due to “a substantiated violation of the standards of ministerial behavior and boundaries” but were not more specific.
Pinero, 47, known as “Father Jerry” in the parish, advertised scented candles, life coaching and get-rich-quick ideas online. An archdiocese spokeswoman has said that priests are typically not permitted to pursue secular jobs, except for teaching and other approved posts.
Pinero endorsed several so-called multilevel marketing companies on Facebook, blogs and other online posts that included his real name, photo and parish address. He also appeared, without his religious collar, wearing a sweater or velvet blazer and talking about his goal of earning “extra income on the side,” promising recruits they could make thousands of dollars a month selling candles, life coaching or other services.
“Many folks are struggling financially during these very difficult economic times. This is why I have gotten involved in some unique, legit and effective money making programs — to help us get out of this awful financial rut,” Pinero said in selling candles online.
Pinero worked at Incarnation from 1991 to 1997 before taking a three-year leave of absence, during which he lived at church facilities in Philadelphia. He went to a suburban parish in 2000 and returned to Incarnation in 2003, where he became pastor the following year.
Sunday’s announcement said the case is unrelated to the priest abuse investigation that has rocked the Church.
A listed number for Pinero had been disconnected, and he could not be reached for comment.
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