Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $37,014 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

not 100% reassuring

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 14, 2011

Responding to the report of a Pennsylvania grand jury, which had suggested that some abusive priests might still be in active ministry in the Philadelphia archdiocese, Cardinal Justin Regali offered this reassurance:

The report states that there remain in ministry archdiocesan priests who have credible allegations of abuse against them. I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.

While the faithful in Philadelphia may take some comfort in the fact that the archdiocese has instituted new policies to answer the harsh criticism from the grand jury, the cardinal's statement on this particular question is not quite waterproof. The grand jury suggested that priests who have faced credible allegations may still be in ministry. The cardinal-- presumably having digested that charge, and weighed his words-- replies that there are no active priests who have admitted or established charges. 

So what if there are priests in Philadelphia who have faced charges that are credible, but not established? Could they still be in active ministry? Judging by the cardinal's statement, the answer would appear to be Yes.

To keep things in proper perspective, that might not be a bad thing. It's quite easy to lodge a credible allegation against an innocent man, and quite difficult to establish the truth of the charge, even against someone who is guilty. The Dallas Charter puts accused priests in the very difficult position of being asked to prove their innocence, in cases that regularly involve no witnesses other than the accuser and the accused. One might argue persuasively that a "credible" charge is not enough to justify suspension from ministry-- that a priest should be disciplined only when the charge is "established." But wisely or not, the US bishops have tried to reassure the faithful by saying that priests are pulled out of ministry if there are credible charges. That reassurance will work only if the public is convinced that the practice "on the ground" matches the policy. In Philadelphia the grand jury wasn't convinced, and Cardinal Rigali's rebuttal isn't altogether convincing either.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($125,393 to go):
$150,000.00 $24,607.05
84% 16%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? 0 hours ago
The Pope is not the problem 21 hours ago
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. 23 hours ago
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22
Has the Vatican finally discovered how to avoid inaccurate English translations? October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6