Wednesday, September 21, 2005

THE REPORT: Rigali Responds

The archbishop of Philadelphia was supposed to be in Harrisburg today, at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, of which he is the chairman.

For obvious reasons, he was facing the media at home this afternoon.

This has been an intensive process and at times a painful one. Reading the grand jury report is very distressing. I acknowledge the pain and suffering of the victims of clergy sexual abuse. To them I repeat my heartfelt and sincere apologies. The grand jury report details cases and numbers but I know that there is a real person behind every story and pain carried in every heart. I have met with victims and heard firsthand of their suffering and humiliation. They had their youth violated and their vulnerability exploited. The Church repeats its deep regrets and sorrow with the assurance of prayers and continued efforts for healing and new life.

My brother priests share this pain and sorrow. It is important for me to speak directly to the overwhelming majority of priests who faithfully serve the Church. I am grateful for your priestly service and regret that this tragedy diverted attention from all of the splendid work you do. Thank you for your dedication to the faithful of the Archdiocese....

The Church has always viewed sexual abuse of a young person as a grave moral evil. In order to evaluate these situations we relied upon the medical expertise of that time. Today, science better understands abusive behaviors. We continue to practice zero tolerance: no priest who has sexually abused a minor will serve in any ministry in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Our reporting policies have also been revised. We immediately report all accusations to civil authorities. We recognize that we cannot be the only investigators. But it is still important to note that the Archdiocese complied at all times with Pennsylvania law. The Archdiocese is not aware of any circumstances where a report was not made in accordance with the reporting obligations of the Child Protective Services Law.



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