Black smoke rose at the Vatican today, but I was thinking about the smoke screen here in Philadelphia until the 2011 Grand Jury Report cleared the air.
That report, rather than concern or morality, was what prompted Cardinal Rigali to remove 26 “unsuitable” priests from ministry for investigation. According to court documents the Philadelphia hierarchy was well aware of the risks these men posed long before the report was released. Vigilant oversight seems imperative to the protection of children in this and many dioceses around the world.
The story is far from over here in Philadelphia. What happened to those 26? Last May, Archbishop Chaput announced the permanent removal of five priests. One priest had died and three were restored to ministry. In July, he announced two more would be permanently removed. In September, one who had been restored was removed again for further investigation. The fate of 19 priests is still pending.
The priests who were removed from ministry had three options:
1- Live a life of prayer and penance.
3- Appeal to the Vatican.
This past week, I asked the archdiocese for an update on what each of the priests removed from ministry had chosen. These choices have implications that impact the laity.
There are no official updates on those choices, according to Kenneth A. Gavin, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
So where are those priests who are appealing to the Vatican? No official update.
The priests who chose a life in the prayer and penance program are housed at Villa St. Joseph, a retirement home for the clergy in Darby. Click here for info on the program. You’ll find the Q&A info a little spotty. For instance: