5 Priests Are Defrocked in Philadelphia
The Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia announced Friday that five priests under investigation for sexual abuse would be permanently removed from ministry, while three other priests had been exonerated. The eight were among 26 priests who were suspended in early 2011 because of past accusations of sex abuse or improper sexual behavior.
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The five who will be removed were deemed ”unsuitable for ministry,” while the other three may return to active ministry immediately, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, announcing his first major action in the sexual abuse scandals since he took office last September.
His predecessor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, suspended the 26 priests after a withering grand jury report in February 2011 accused the archdiocese of allowing as many as 37 priests to keep working, and remain in possible contact with children, despite “substantial evidence of abuse.”
At a news conference Friday, Archbishop Chaput said that one of the priests mentioned in the grand jury report had died, and that church officials had not yet reached conclusions about an additional 17. Six of those priests are still under criminal investigation by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.
Eight other priests never named in the grand jury report were exonerated last year and were allowed to remain in ministry. Two others had already left the archdiocese.