Philadelphia Archbishop To Be installed This Week
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The incoming leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in an interview published Sunday that he hopes for a prompt resolution of the cases of priests suspended in connection with a wideranging sex abuse probe.
But Charles Chaput, who takes over the 1.5 millionmember diocese next week, told The Philadelphia Inquirer he doesn’t look forward to it because the decision, no matter what it is, will cause pain. This year, Cardinal Justin Rigali suspended about two dozen priests who were accused of abusing minors or engaging in other misconduct. Now, those cases will fall to his successor, Chaput, who had been leader of the Archdiocese of Denver since 1997.
The 66-year-old Chaput, who will be installed Thursday, told the newspaper he wants the cases resolved “as promptly as it can be done.’’ Before restoring or dismissing any priest, he said, he will consult the archdiocesan review board, the priests’ council, his auxiliary bishops, and the team Rigali appointed in March to investigate the allegations.
“I don’t look forward to it,’’ Chaput said in the interview in Denver. Whatever he decides “will be painful for some: for the individual priest, his family, (or) for the people who are victimized and want some redress.’’
Rigali announced the suspensions in March, following the February release of a scathing grand jury report and the arrest of three current or former priests and a former parochial- school teacher accused of raping two boys in the 1990s. In addition, a monsignor who headed the clergy office under Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua was charged with child endangerment. He is the first U.S. church official charged in the priest-abuse scandal.
Chaput said some of the accused clergy have been among his many e-mailers. Their cases have been “dragging on too long,’’ Chaput said they told him, and they beseeched him not to delay in deciding their fates.
Like Rigali, Chaput said he likely will not make the accusations public – even after the cases are decided.
“People have a right to privacy – both the people who claim they were victimized and the priests who claim they are innocent,’’ Chaput said.