Signs of Decision on Accused Philadelphia Priests

By Jon Hurdle
New York Times
May 2, 2012

Several hundred Roman Catholic priests from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia gathered Wednesday for a closed-door meeting with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput days before he has said he hopes to announce the results of an investigation into claims of sexual abuse against 27 priests.

Church officials declined to disclose the topic of Wednesday’s meeting at a Catholic high school in suburban Philadelphia, and priests said beforehand that they had not been told what would be discussed. But the archbishop scheduled an announcement for Friday afternoon.

Priests made no comment to reporters after the 90-minute meeting.

The meeting prompted speculation that the archbishop would announce whether the priests would be allowed to remain in ministry after being placed on administrative leave early last year.

In a March 8 column on a church Web site, Archbishop Chaput said that some of the 27 cases were “very near conclusion” and that he hoped most would be completed within eight weeks. “Justice requires resolution of these men’s circumstances,” he wrote.

The priests were suspended after a Philadelphia grand jury report in January 2011 accused three named priests and a Catholic schoolteacher of abuse and said at least 37 other priests were still in ministry despite “credible” allegations of abuse against them.

The report also charged Msgr. William J. Lynn, former secretary for clergy at the archdiocese, with child endangerment and conspiracy for allegedly allowing accused priests to work in positions where they could continue to abuse children, despite his responsibility for investigating reports of abuse.

The meeting comes during the sixth week of the criminal trial in Philadelphia of Monsignor Lynn, the most senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to be tried on charges relating to sexual abuse.

In response to the grand jury’s accusation against 37 priests, the archdiocese placed on administrative leave 4 of those named in the report, an additional 21 active priests whom it did not identify, and 2 who were retired.

Of the 10 other priests, 8 were allowed to remain in ministry, while 2 no longer serve in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. One of the suspended priests has since died.








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