The archbishop of Philadelphia announced that five priests were “not suitable for ministry.” It was the Catholic Church’s first action since it suspended 27 priests last year when a grand jury report accused church officials of ignoring allegations of sex abuse.
The AP reports that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said three other priests would return to the ministry and that one priest died in the process of the investigation. Chaput did not immediately announce the fate of the 17 others investigated.
“‘The process of reviewing these cases was designed to ensure that the decisions announced today reflect our commitment to protect children, assist victims, restore the integrity of the priesthood and provide evidence to the broader community that they can have confidence in these outcomes,’ the cardinal said.
“He also offered his ‘heartfelt apology’ to all victims of clergy abuse, too. The announcements come during the criminal trial of Monsignor William J. Lynn, a former top aide at the archdiocese. He is charged with child endangerment for his handling of abuse complaints from 1992 to 2004, mostly under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer has a list of the priests involved. The paper spoke to one victim, who said the archdiocese had contacted him to tell him that his allegations had been substantiated and the priest had been removed.
“He said [Msgr. Francis Feret] sexually assaulted him at least 100 times when he was a student at St. Timothy’s school in Northeast Philadelphia in the early 1970s. The abuse occurred in the church confessional, choir loft and other places, he said,” the paper reports.
The man, who asked the paper not to name him, says he is “relieved” because of the news.
“It’s affected my whole life — in every way,” he said.