Priests Suspended: A Reasonable Penance has the sad details on the suspension of priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese by Cardinal Justin Rigali due to legitimate allegations of abuse, Lent in Philadelphia: 21 Priests on Leave:

“(CNS) — Continuing his response to the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Cardinal Justin Rigali placed 21 priests on administrative leave from their clerical assignments March 7.  Parishes where the priests had been assigned were to be informed of the action at Masses on Ash Wednesday, and again at Masses the following weekend.

“The priests’ placement on leave is not a final determination, according to a press release issued by the archdiocesan communications office. The action follows “an initial examination of files looking at both the substance of allegations and the process by which those allegations were reviewed,” the statement said.

“Each case will be subject to a further review in a “thorough, independent investigation.”

Of course, the suspensions are a ‘interim measure’ – meaning that while the archdiocese has a former district attorney, Gina Maisto Smith, investigate the charges against these men, they are not working for the archdiocese in any manner.  Innocent until proven guilty, but no possible contact with children.  Ms. Smith will head the intensive re-examination of all the cases cited by the grand jury, and it was she who recommended the suspensions after completing her initial review.

This is all in response to a February 7 grand jury report that asked the archdiocese to “review all of the old allegations against currently active priests and to remove from ministry all of the priests with credible allegations against them.”

If these men are found to be not guilty, then they are martyrs for a good cause.  And good riddance to the sorry bastards who are guilty, especially those who were not diligent in their oversight, which likely directly resulted in even more horrific child abuse.  While the morale of the Philadelphia church has good reason to be shaky, it seems a reasonable penance for them and for all Catholics.  There is no excuse for this; none at all.

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