Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday indeed

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day when Christians kick off 40 days of introspection and repentance on the journey toward Easter.

Which is pretty appropriate for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Yesterday the archdiocese announced it was suspending 21 priests who were named in a recent scathing grand jury report as possible suspects in the sexual abuse of children.

The grand jury found allegations against the men to be credible, even though they were cleared by the archdiocese’s own review board.

It is believed to be one of the biggest such actions in the history of the church in America.

But the archdiocese was not yet ready to name the suspected priests.
That likely will come today, when Cardinal Justin Rigali addresses the issue at Ash Wednesday services at the Basilica SS. Peter and Paul.
Parishes where the priests were stationed also are to get letters from the cardinal today. It is not yet known if any of the suspected priests is in service in Delaware County.

The move appears to be the result of a recommendation from Gina Maisto Smith, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Philly D.A.’s office.

After the grand jury finding that resulted in criminal charges against two priests, a former priest and a high-ranking archdiocesan official, Rigali moved to put three priests on leave who had been identified by the grand jury as having credible accusations against them.

But the grand jury reported that as many as 37 priests were allowed to stay in active ministry with credible charges against them. Rigali at first denied that claim.

The archdiocese stressed yesterday that the move to place the priests on administrative leave is not a final determination, but rather an “interim measure” while the archdiocese takes a new look at the claims.

Victim abuse groups again criticized the church for not releasing the names of the priests.

Ash Wednesday, and it would appear that the archdiocese is indeed in ashes.

I know I need at least 40 days to repent.

I’m not really sure how long the archdiocese is going to need.

“Bless me father, for I have sinned…..”

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