Chaput removes priest who ran an online business

Rev. Geraldo Pinero is former pastor of a N. Phila. parish.
Rev. Geraldo Pinero is former pastor of a N. Phila. parish.
Posted: July 17, 2012

A Roman Catholic Philadelphia priest who has identified himself as "an online business owner" - a avocation not permitted by the church - has been removed as "unsuitable for ministry," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced on Sunday

The Rev. Geraldo Pinero, former pastor of Incarnation of Our Lord Church, 5105 N. Fifth St. in the Olney neighborhood, had committed "a substantiated violation of the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries," the announcement said.

The announcement did not define his violation.

But the priest was "a local face of a pyramid-like Illinois-based enterprise calling itself Teamwork Revolution Power Systems," The Inquirer reported after federal agents served a search warrant on the Incarnation rectory in November 2010.

The Teamwork local site, with a photo of Pinero in a tuxedo, promised progressive income for joining a "matrix" of other members, then benefiting as others signed up.

It was not known whether the enterprise had any connection to the visit by federal agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Federal court records show no criminal or civil action against Pinero since the search.

Speaking in November 2010, an archdiocese spokeswoman said: "outside secular employment would not be permitted" for a priest, though exceptions might include teaching at a Catholic university or giving faith-related lectures.

The archdiocese removed Pinero, 47, from Incarnation parish "in November 2010 when federal authorities executed a search warrant at the parish rectory," according to the Sunday announcement.

"His ministry has been restricted since that time, and he has not been permitted to exercise his public ministry, wear clerical garb, or present himself publicly as a priest."

In 2011, the archdiocese placed 26 priests on administrative leave following a Philadelphia grand jury investigation into clergy sex abuse and misconduct involving children.

"The announcement regarding Father Pinero is not connected to those cases," the archdiocese said.

Pinero was ordained in 1991, the announcement said, and served at Incarnation of Our Lord parish from 1991 to 1997, St. Charles Borromeo in 1999, and St. Joseph in Aston, Delaware County, from 2000 to 2003, before returning to Incarnation from 2003 to 2011.

He was on personal leave from 1997 to 2000, residing at St. Bridget Church from 1997 to 1999. He then lived at a private residence from 1999 to 2000, the announcement said.

On Sunday, Incarnation parishioners continued to wonder why Pinero left so suddenly and praised his work as a priest.

"Every Sunday, they said to pray for him," said one member of the congregation waiting for the bus on the corner across the street from the church.

"They say he did something wrong, but nothing to do with the kids," said the woman, who declined to give her name. "I don't know what happened. Nobody knows anything."

"He was a great guy," said Luis Colon, 30, enjoying a party with his family gathered around a pool jammed into a tiny side yard no more than a block away from the church.

"We never heard nothing bad about him," added Colon, who grew up in the Latino neighborhood. "He never gave us wrong advice. He always wanted us to do better. Father Jerry he gave his whole life to the community."


IContact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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