Thursday, March 10, 2011

Philadelphia Archdiocese Suspends 21 Accused Priests

In the wake of a February grand jury report criticizing the procedures employed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia in dealing with priests accused of sexually abusing minors (see prior posting), the Archdiocese announced on Tuesday that it has placed 21 priests on leave. Further independent investigations will be undertaken in each case. Eight other priests will remain in their positions after an independent examination of the evidence against them found that no further investigation is warranted. A statement by Cardinal Justin Rigali explained that these actions followed from recommendations by veteran child abuse prosecutor, Gina Maisto Smith, who he enlisted to examine the cases of accused priests and the Archdiocese's procedures for handling allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Rigali concluded: "I wish to express again my sorrow for the sexual abuse of minors committed by any members of the Church, especially clergy. I am truly sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse, as well as to the members of our community who suffer as a result of this great evil and crime." The New York Times reports that a dozen protesters stood outside Ash Wednesday services in Philadelphia yesterday. One carried a sign urging that the identities of the 21 suspended priests be disclosed.