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In 2011, a Philadelphia grand jury report found that multiple priests who were accused of sexually abusing children were allowed to remain in the ministry. Beginning on page 55, the report discusses these allegations.

As a result of the report, the Philadelphia archdiocese began an internal investigation and suspended 26 priests. Two days ago, the archdiocese deemed 5 priests unsuitable for ministry:

  • George Cadwallader, 58,
  • Msgr. Francis Feret, 75,
  • Robert Povish, 47,
  • John Reardon, 65, and
  • Thomas Rooney, 61.

“When a child is harmed, the church has failed. When trust is lost, the church has failed. When the whole community suffers as a result, the church has failed. We can’t change the past. But I pray – and I do believe – that the lessons of the last year have made our church humbler, wiser, and a more vigilant guardian of our people’s safety.” Archbishop Chaput said.

However, nothing could be farther from the truth. The archdiocese remains vague about how policies and procedures are being reformed to investigate allegations of child molestation and abuse by priests. In addition, the archdiocese failed to reveal the specific reasons these priests were ousted, and also failed to confirm the names of these priests. Various local news outlets reported these names, not the archdiocese.

One obvious reason the archdiocese failed to outline the allegations has to do with anticipated litigation. By detailing the reasons, the archdiocese would be making material admissions which could be direct evidence of its prior knowledge of abuse. Such statements would be admissible in civil cases and would make the cases easier for the victims.

It’s an embarrassment to the faith that the leaders of the church continue to protect priests over people, especially victims of priest abuse. The church’s investigation of another 17 priests is still continuing and when those results are announced, there will probably be no change in the church’s ambiguity and patent failure to put the needs of the victims over those of its priests.

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