|Four County Priests Among Those Put on Leave (updated 9:05 P.m.)
By Eric S. Smith
Daily Local News
March 9, 2011
Four of the 21 Catholic priests who were placed on administrative leave earlier in the week are from parishes in Chester County, according to local parish officials and other reports.
Ss. Simon and Jude in Westtown announced on Wednesday that Father Joseph Glatts has been placed on leave by Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Monsignor Joseph Marino, pastor at Our Lady of Assumption in Tredyffrin, told the congregation during Mass on Wednesday that Father Daniel Hoy has been placed on leave. Officials at St. Isaac Jogues in Tredyffrin confirmed during Mass that Father Steven Harris is on leave. Officials at St. Patrick’s in Malvern did not confirm if Father Peter Talocchi was placed on leave, but other reports indicate that he has been.
“It is an awkward day for all of us to be Catholic,” Marino, who is also the regional vicar for Chester County, said during a 7 p.m. Mass. “At least we can get our ashes and quietly go home. Those who received their ashes in the morning had to go to work and be identified as Catholic all day.”
Marino added that he feels a “sense of shame.”
Rigali said individual parishes will address their congregations on Ash Wednesday and over the weekend.
“This news will elicit a variety of reactions among you, as parents of school children, parishioners, and the community-at-large,” Monsignor Francis Beach, pastor at Ss. Simon and Jude, said in a written statement. “This period is a challenging one for everyone in the church. Please be understanding of the unique and individual responses that people may have as a result of this situation.”
Rigali placed the priests on leave after the church examined 37 cases of alleged abuse that were brought to light in a grand jury report in February. Rigali said five other priests would have been placed on leave, but one is currently on leave, two are no longer involved in the church and two others currently serve in different archdioceses. Those names will be turned over to the archbishops of those archdioceses for a determination to be made.
Eight priests were mentioned in the grand jury report who were not placed on leave, because the church found that no further investigation was warranted in their cases, Rigali said.
“I want to be clear: These administrative leaves are interim measures,” Rigali said in a written statement. “They are not in any way final determinations or judgments.”
“I know that for many people their trust in the church has been shaken. I pray that the efforts of the archdiocese to address these cases of concern and to re-evaluate our way of handling allegations will help rebuild that trust in truth and justice.”
The administrative leave was recommended by Gina Maisto Smith, an attorney the church has hired to handle allegations.
The grand jury report initially led to the arrests of three priests and a former Catholic teacher as well as a former archdiocese official, Monsignor William Lynn. Lynn is currently on administrative leave, having most recently served as the pastor at St. Joseph’s in Downingtown.
Lynn served as the secretary of the clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004. A grand jury found he allegedly allowed sex offenders to re-enter the church and hold positions with access to children at parishes with schools. He is being charged with two counts of endangering a minor.
The charges against Lynn follow indictments of priests Edward Avery, Charles Engelhardt and James Brennan and teacher Bernard Shero on rape, indecent sexual assault and related offenses, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said.
During his Ash Wednesday homily at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Rigali told parishioners that the church is committed to preventing sexual abuse against children.
“Once again, we renew our commitment to make every possible effort to prevent these evil acts and to protect children from harm,” Rigali said, according to a release.
“In this spirit, as I announced yesterday, the Archdiocese is having re-examined cases of concern to the grand jury about allegations of abuse of minors or boundary issues of some priests. We are likewise re-evaluating the way we handle allegations. The protection of children is paramount.”
Staff writer Gabriel Katz contributed to this report.
To contact staff writer Eric S. Smith, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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