Kathy and I have heard through several sources that internal investigations have concluded on most of the priests removed from ministry. These are the priests Cardinal Rigali temporarily removed from ministry following the 2011 Grand Jury Report. Archbishop Chaput removed two more permanently and restored four in Spring of 2012. The Archdiocese continued investigations on others. In some cases, the Pennsylvania statute of limitations for child sex abuse had expired during the archdiocesan coverup. The Archdiocesan investigators and review board made recommendations to Archbishop Chaput.
The announcements may be made at “affected” parishes this weekend after Masses. However, all Catholics and Philadelphia-area residents are affected by clergy child sex abuse. These priests may go back into the community with no Megan’s Law listing to alert neighbors. Until their appeals to Rome are finalized, they will receive stipends. If they choose a life of prayer and penance, the Archdiocese continues to care for their financial needs. All will receive their full pensions – even if they are laicized.
The Archdiocese does not share specific information on priests who were permanently removed from ministry. We know if they’ve chosen a life of prayer and penance, but don’t know if they are awaiting appeals to the Vatican or are living in our communities.
Meanwhile, there is no justice for the victims and no safety for children. Where does this leave the faithful, the innocent clergy, the future Church? Until the Archdiocese, Archbishop Chaput and Pennsylvania Catholic Conference support window legislation for child sex abuse – all apologies will ring hollow. Our leadership in the Vatican and Archbishop Chaput can not change the past but they can change the future.