Feds investigate a Pastor of Phila. Catholic Church

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - November 19, 2010

Federal agents searched the Incarnation of Our Lord Parish Church at 5th and Lindley in Olney earlier in the week.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has confirmed for that Father Geraldo Pinero has stepped down from his position as Pastor following a raid by federal authorities.

Father Geraldo Pinero has been Pastor at Incarnation of Our Lord Parish for the last 8 years. He has been highly revered by his parishioners during his time as Pastor and as Associate Pastor a few years before.

But on Tuesday, Federal Agents from the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement swooped down on the church rectory where the priest lives. A source tells Action News they confiscated his computer and other materials from his living quarters.

Officials declined to say specifically what the focus of the investigation is, but it has nothing to do with immigration and is a customs enforcement matter.

The Agency, a Criminal Enforcement Arm of the Homeland Security Agency, has been heavily involved in investigating child pornography on the internet through its initiative dubbed, "Operation Predator".

The effort has led to the arrest and conviction of a number of priests across the country in recent years.

A spokesman says that he could not confirm or deny that the raid was part of that initiative.

An Archdiocese Spokeswoman also declined to comment on the nature of the investigation.

Father Pinero was ordained a Catholic Priest in 1991 after completing studies at St. Charles Borromero Seminary.

He also served as Associate Pastor at St. Joseph's Church in Aston, Delaware County.

In his place, Cardinal Justin Rigali has appointed Monsignor Hugh Shields, Vicar for Hispanic Catholics, as Pastor of the Parish.

A spokesman from ICE says that no arrests have been made, contrary to rumors that had been going around the neighborhood.

The Archdiocese declined to say where Father Pinero has been reassigned pending the outcome of the probe.

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