“Crisis Control in Philadelphia,” by Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, May 26, 2011
NCR: “So boundary violations created the discrepancy between the cases in the grand jury report and Cardinal Rigali’s initial insistence that no priests with credible allegations of abuse were still in ministry? That’s why the priests were subsequently suspended?
Mary Achilles: Yes. Gina’s review identified some problems: definitional, evaluative standards, systemic, etc. What she has found to date has been given to the archdiocese’s delegate for investigations, and that is leading us to a new process. The delegate for investigations is attempting to marry the canonical process with what we need to do to comply with local law enforcement.”
Our takeaway question: So if a priest had child porn, was “sexting” or gave kids beer (all boundary issues) it was OK to leave him in ministry?
NCR: The John Jay report last week noted ‘the failure of a significant number of diocesan leaders to comply with their own policies.’ Did that happen in Philadelphia?
Bishop Senior: “We can certainly learn a tremendous amount from that report. I can’t really speak to how it would relate to the archdiocese.”
Our takeaway: Really? Bishop Senior, don’t you mean, “won’t speak to how it would relate to the archdiocese?” “Can’t” implies an impediment.
Kathy Kane made this observation:
They make it all sound so innocent – just an honest mistake. Below is the brief summary of the case of Father Perzan. Seth Williams identified him as a priest with troubling allegations still in ministry. Cardinal Rigali quickly suspend him a week after the Grand Jury report. Remember that Cardinal Rigali declared that no credibly accused priests remained in ministry at this time. This priest was the pastor of a parish when he was suspended.
“The Archdiocese received two separate complaints from young men who reported that, as boys, they had been fondled on numerous occasions by Father Stephen Perzan when he was assigned as Chaplain at St. Gabriel’s Hall, a residential program for delinquent youth. Despite two similar allegations from two unrelated individuals, despite corroborating evidence from Father Perzan’s superior and from other staff members at St. Gabriel’s, and despite a finding of deception when Father Perzan submitted to a polygraph test, the Archdiocesan Review Board found both allegations “unsubstantiated.”