Catholic Church Scandal Has Local Tie

By Lynn Jusinski and Ann Cornell
Phoenixville Patch
March 20, 2011

As the Catholic church abuse scandal continues to unfurl, the scandal has a local link to Phoenixville.

Rev. Robert Povish, the weekend priest at St. Ann Roman Catholic Church in Phoenixville, was among 21 priests placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Povish was the priest at St. Ann in the past, and came to Phoenixville in 1992 from Delaware County, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In 1995, Povish took on the duties of the opening prayer prior to Phoenixville Borough Council meetings, according to an article in the Inquirer archives.

Povish is the priest in residence at St. Eleanor's Church in Collegeville. Those on leave face accusations of inappropriate behavior or boundary issues with minors, or of more serious abuse, according to Archdiocesan Director of Communications Donna Farrell.

A grand jury report released last month stated dozens of priests remained in active ministry even though what the jury deemed credible allegations had been lodged against them.

"In each case, the next step is a thorough independent investigation," according to a press release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Povish's leave was announced at Ash Wednesday Masses at St. Eleanor's.

The statement included portions of the press release from the Archdiocese, including Cardinal Rigali's emphasis that "administrative leaves are interim measures. They are not in any way final determinations or judgments."

"I know that for many people their trust in the Church has been shaken," Rigali stated in the press release. "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."

Read the grand jury report here (warning: the report contains graphic material). KYW has published a list of those on leave.

St. Eleanor's Church cannot comment on the situation. Farrell said the Archdiocese cannot comment on the nature of the accusations specifically against Povish, or when they were made.

The Archdiocese has been maintaining a page of updates on its response to the grand jury report.


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