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Philadelphia: reactions vary after 21 priests removed from ministry

Catholic World News - March 09, 2011

After the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that 21 priests had been placed on administrative leave, a prosecutor praised the move, while groups representing sex-abuse victims said the move was not enough.

"Cardinal Rigali's actions.. reflect his concern for the physical and spiritual well-being of those in his care," said Seth Williams, the district attorney who had guided a grand jury investigation that concluded with a scathing critique of archdiocesan policies.

But Joelle Casteix of the Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) disagreed, saying that cardinal's action was "outrageously reckless and callous" because the archdiocese had not immediately identified the 21 priests who were removed from ministry. In fact, the archdiocese plans to reveal the identity of the suspended clerics, beginning with disclosures at their parishes this weekend.

The simultaneous removal of 21 priests, coming in the wake of the critical grand-jury report, clearly indicated that the archdiocese was backpedaling in the face of public outrage. Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org described the mass suspensions as "an act of desperation, not transparency."

"We renew our commitment to make every effort possible to prevent these evil acts and to protect children from harm," Cardinal Rigali said at an Ash Wednesday service. He told the congregation that the archdiocese was re-assessing the charges against the 21 newly suspended priests, and "likewise reevaluating the way we handle allegations" in the light of the grand jury's criticism. "The protection of children is paramount," he said.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: impossible - Mar. 10, 2011 12:49 PM ET USA

    Those snappish folks can't have it both ways where they want to damn the bishops if they "do" and if they "don't."

  • Posted by: annemarie - Mar. 09, 2011 6:36 PM ET USA

    It’s frustrating that there exists a presumption of guilt for all priests placed on leave. The standard for a credible accusation is extremely low in most dioceses. Innocent priests suffer the loss of their good name and seldom receive due process, remaining in limbo for years. They are spent physically, mentally, and financially. This is NOT justice. Unfortunately, innocent priests are paying for the transgressions of the bishops who are not good shepherds. Caiaphas syndrome, perhaps!

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