Critics slam former archbishop’s role in Pope Francis’ Philadelphia visit

Global News

By Michael R. Sisak The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – A former archbishop who retired amid allegations he put church interests ahead of clergy sexual abuse victims returned to the city over the weekend to help Pope Francis celebrate Mass, drawing criticism from advocates who said his visibility “rubs salt into deep wounds.”

The current archbishop, Charles Chaput, defended Cardinal Justin Rigali’s role in the service Saturday at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, saying Monday his predecessor did nothing wrong and is “always welcome to be here.”

Rigali, 80, sat to Chaput’s left and stood with the pope as he consecrated the Eucharist. A spokesman said he also participated in several other events with U.S. bishops, including the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families conference that brought the pope to Philadelphia.

Rigali retired to the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2011, months after a grand jury accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of sheltering more than three dozen credibly accused priests and lying about it to victims and others.

Chaput, who attended the pope’s meeting with sex abuse victims on Sunday, has removed several priests from church work since replacing Rigali. He bristled Monday when asked about Rigali at a post-papal visit news conference, asserting the grand jury reports released during the cardinal’s tenure did not accuse him of “doing anything inappropriate or not handling things appropriately.”

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.