Lifestyle & Belief

Philadelphia archdiocese defrocks 5 priests after sex abuse inquiry


Newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia Justin Rigali (L) is greeted by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia, during the installation ceremony October 7, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


William Thomas Cain

The archbishop of Philadelphia has announced that five priests are "not suitable for ministry" because of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse or other inappropriate conduct. 

According to NBC News it is the Catholic Church's first action since it suspended 26 priests last year over a grand jury finding that church officials of ignored allegations of widespread sex abuse.

The February grand jury report alleged that dozens of priests accused with  offenses ranging from sexual abuse to inappropriate boundary issues were still active in Philadelphia, despite a zero-tolerance policy among US bishops. 

The report also led to the criminal trial of Monsignor William J. Lynn, a former top aide at the archdiocese charged with child endangerment for his handling of abuse complaints from 1992 to 2004, mostly under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

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The Associated Press reported Archbishop Charles J. Chaput as saying said three other priests would return to the ministry and that one priest died in the process of the investigation. Chaput did not immediately announce the fate of the 17 others investigated. 

"The process of reviewing these cases was designed to ensure that the decisions announced today reflect our commitment to protect children, assist victims, restore the integrity of the priesthood and provide evidence to the broader community that they can have confidence in these outcomes," the archbishop said.

He also offered his "heartfelt apology" to all victims of clergy abuse.

Meanwhile, a victim's advocacy group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said they were shocked that more than a year after a grand jury raised concerns about 37 accused priests, only eight of the cases are resolved, according to NBC Philadelphia.

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