Local priest taken off administrative leave, reassigned to church in Narragansett

This is a file image of the Diocese of Providence. (WLNE)

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WLNE) — A local priest placed on administrative leave at a Barrington Catholic Church in February is back on the job after the Diocese of Providence confirmed Fr. Eric Silva was reassigned to St. Thomas in Narragansett.

Silva was the former assistant pastor at St. Luke’s in Barrington before parents raised concerns about questions he asked religious students while taking confessions at Immaculate Conception in Cranston.

The diocese never confirmed the exact nature of those parents’ concerns, but a spokesperson with the diocese said Silva’s administrative leave was meant for “pastoral study and reflection” but was always going to be temporary.

Bishop Thomas Tobin said Silva will become an assistant pastor at St. Thomas More beginning Aug. 15.

In a statement, the Bishop told ABC 6 News that Silva was given permission to return to the active ministry last month and is now ready for the assignment.

“Father Eric Silva is a fine priest, and I am confident that he will serve his parish community very well. 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,” said Tobin.

There has been pushback about Silva’s return to ministry, notably, from the Survivors Network of those abused by priests. They said they are concerned with the diocese’s decision.

Silva has not been accused of abuse, but SNAP said it fears what it calls “grooming patterns and repeated behavior” reported by parents, as well as concerns over the limited details released surrounding the diocese’s investigation into those initial concerns of parents.

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