From Philadelphia: five priests removed from ministry


Five Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse will not be able to return to their jobs.

They are among 26 priests under investigation for abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Archbishop Charles Chaput announced today that decisions on eight priests had been made, one priest has died since the investigation began, three priest were found “suitable for ministry” and that decisions on 17 more cases are in different stages of investigation but that more decisions would be announced in the coming weeks.

The five priests found “unsuitable” to return to ministry are:

  • Reverend Robert Povish
  • Reverend John reardon
  • Reverend Thomas Rooney
  • Reverend Monsignor Francis Feret
  • Reverend George Cadwallader

The three priests found “suitable” to return to ministry are:

  • Reverend Philip Barr
  • Reverend Michael Chapman
  • Monsignor Michael Flood

Before today’s announcement, Chaput emphasized that child sex abuse is a “broad, societal problem” and apologized to the victims on behalf of the Catholic church. He said no lesson is more important than the understanding that the people who suffer most are the victims.

“Over the years, as part of my ministry as a Bishop, I have met personally with many victims and this humbling experience has taught me that no words can sufficiently describe the hurt a victim feels.”

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sent out a statement saying they’re shocked that more than a year after a grand jury raised concerns about 37 accused priests, only eight of the cases are resolved.

Chaput said the five priests who will not be retained do have the right to appeal their decisions to The Vatican.

Of the remaining 17 cases, Chaput said:

  • 6 have not been cleared by law enforcement so the church hasn’t been able to do their own investigation.
  • 2 are under internal investigation.
  • 9 are complete and awaiting review by either the Archbishop or Archdiocesan review board. Announcements on these nine are expected in the coming weeks.

Read more.

And you can read Archbishop Chaput’s letter on this right here.


  1. naturgesetz says:

    “SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sent out a statement saying they’re shocked that more than a year after a grand jury raised concerns about 37 accused priests, only eight of the cases are resolved.”

    Who cares what they say. They are determined to find fault, no matter what the Church does. Never mind that six are being held up by law enforcement’s continuing work and nine others are about to be announced. Fact don’t matter to SNAP. As far as they are concerned, the Catholic Church is wrong, regardless of any facts.

  2. naturgesetz:

    “Who cares what they say.” I do. And I do not think that it is fair to say that “Fact don’t matter to SNAP. As far as they are concerned, the Catholic Church is wrong, regardless of any fact.”

    Speaking as a native Philadelphia who is acquainted with some of the people involved in this clergy scandal. I am well aware of some of the criticism leveled at SNAP and some of it may be true. Still, I am grateful that people like SNAP have kept the issue in the forefront. Otherwise, it would have been still hidden and covered-up by our church leadership.

  3. In apostolic times, the see of Rome was acknowledged for its faith witness in the face of persecution and martyrdom. What we see in Philadelphia is a sort of witness of the opposite kind, perpetrated from recent cardinals on down. This see does not deserve a red hat. Another diocese in this province should be acknowledged as a cardinal see, or the hat should be sent elsewhere.

  4. midwestlady says:

    Actually it sounds like they’re doing a good job of going through these cases more carefully now and that’s why it’s slow. I know in the past, it was not taken seriously enough, but I think that it’s much better now.

  5. midwestlady says:

    I think it was really important that it hit the papers and came to light, regardless of the negative press and all the rest of it. It was an open secret, corruption of the worst kind, and the injustices needed to end.
    I really do think that it’s gotten a lot better and that some honesty has developed around it and some of the associated issues. Overall, we’re better off now than we were 10 years ago, at least on this issue.

  6. As a member of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and as one who has taught in its schools and has been heartbroken by the testimony of the victims in the current trial, you make an interesting point. However, before looking at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as an anomaly, Catholics around the country and around the world should be looking at this case and asking questions of their leadership in their own diocese. I fear what ocurred in Boston a decade ago and what has now come to light here in Philadelphia is just the tip of the iceburg and anyone who thinks their own diocese is completely free of such abuse cases is either in denial or being purposely mislead by their leadership. But it seems that the laity does not really feel or share the pain if it is not happening where they live. I didn’t comprehend the pain of the people in Boston until the 2nd Phila. grand jury report was released a year ago. Please keep us in your prayers. There are many devout Catholics who have been shaken to the core by the web of lies and coverups perpetrated on us from the highest levels.

  7. zmama:
    You took the words right out of my Mouth, well maybe brain. Perhaps I am trying to make excuses but I cannot believe that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is the only diocese throughout the U.S. or the world that has this problem. I read today of a priest in Italy sent to prison for sexual abuse.

    “An Italian priest was sentenced in the northern city of Genoa on Thursday to nine and a half years in prison for child sex abuse and attempting to recruit minors into prostitution. Father Riccardo Seppia from the nearby town of Sastri Ponente was also ordered to pay a fine of 28,000 euros (36,821 U.S. dollars) for his crimes that have rocked the Catholic Church in Italy.

    Referring to tapped telephone conversations, investigators alleged that Seppia asked for sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys.

    ‘I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger,’ he allegedly said. ‘Fourteen-year-olds are alright. Look for needy boys who have family problems.’”

  8. Given the recent scandals involving Bishops Finn, George, Walsh, McCormack, and all, each bishop will enter a see with the burden of proof on his head, Archbishop Chaput included. One would hope that the motivation for taking morality seriously is not the fear of punishment, financial or penitiary, but the desire to do good.

  9. pagansister says:

    The 5 priests who have not been retained have the right to appeal to the Vatican? So, the Pope is going to recheck all the things that have apparently been proven? Perhaps he will invite them to come to Rome! Better yet—-they can go out and try to find a job, with the past of proven abuse to children, who is going to hire them?

  10. Sure, just point out the one that’s produced 3 saints and you have a deal.

  11. “Five Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse will not be able to return to their jobs.”

    This should read “Five pedophiles were removed from the capacity to rape children.” Let’s hope it soon includes “Five pedophiles were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms,” which should have happened years ago.

  12. naturgesetz says:

    I’m very disappointed at your sarcastic insults, pagansister. Up to now, I had thought you were better than that.

  13. Barbara P. says:

    These acts of abuse are horrible. What is also disturbing is that apparently these priests were previously cleared by the Diocese’s administrative review process. I think the people of Philadelphia deserve an explanation as to how that happened.

  14. If you recall when the SECOND grand jury report came out, they challenged the Arch of Phila ongoing assertion that no priest with credible cases of child sexual assault were still in active ministry.
    The grand jury said- actually about 3 dozen such priests in fact were in active ministry. With the evidence at hand or the statute of limitations the grand jury was not in a position to criminally charge these priests at that time.
    That is when Rigali suspended the priests referenced here and the review process began.

  15. Barbara P says:

    Has the Church ever provided a statement explaining what happened during the first review process or is that one of the issues at the criminal trial?

  16. Oregon Catholic says:

    Except I couldn’t fail to notice the Abp. had used the old ‘release your news late on a Fri afternoon’ tactic right out of the political playbook.

    Sorry, but I don’t think attitudes within the hierarchy have changed one bit. They have simply been forced to take action because they have been exposed by the legal spotlight. There is a rotten disease within the Church that will have to be completely cut out before attitudes change.

  17. Oregon Catholic says:

    And in the meantime, the only money I give that goes outside the parish is what the archdiocese skims off from collections. Any time I can direct my money to specific ministries within the parish I do so to further protect it. Money, or lack thereof, is the quickest way for laity to get their attention.

  18. From their standpoint, they’d be fools not to try Rome. After all, one of the most prolific enablers of abusers like them, Cardinal Law, got a job from the pope himself! And a promotion, no less.

  19. naturgesetz says:

    Cardinal Law was not an enabler. His record is one of imposing, first, psychological treatment for all who were credibly accused, and when that didn’t work setting up a review board including laity, and always following its recommendations. These were clear advances on the
    ‘reassign and hope for the best” policy of his predecessors, and they had the effect of drastically reducing the number of instances of abuse from 27 per year in the years preceding his arrival to zero in his last three years in Boston.

    And I don’t think going from diocesan bishop of a major archdiocese to rector of one church — even St. Mary Major — is a promotion.

  20. pagansister says:

    Didn’t mean it to sound sarcastic naturgesetz. I just find it interesting that they can appeal to the Vatican. Guess that is a little like the secular world of the Supreme Court. However, reality according to the findings in Philadelphia is that they behaved inappropriately with children. Are they subject to secular laws—a trial etc. or has the time run out for that? In the secular world they are pediphiles. They would be required to register and stay away from schools etc. Actually, they deserve to be behind bars. Not being an expert—but from what I “hear” , pediphiles have a very hard time in prison.! If I remember correctly one pediphile priest met an untimely death in prison. Don’t really wish them dead—just out of society.

  21. My limited understanding of cannon law gives all priests rights to appeal to Rome any such decision made by an ordinary- since it is such a severe punishment. The appeal process protects a priest whose case is railroaded by a rouge bishop.

    The Arch of Phila stated that any cases still subject to potential criminal legal action remain open.

  22. For those who are interested, here is the video of Archbishop Chaput’s press conference on Friday.

  23. midwestlady says:

    Correct, and I think he was removed to Rome in an attempt to slow the Church from cannibalizing itself in the USA, which it’s been doing since Vatican II.

  24. midwestlady says:

    Don’t get me wrong: Vatican II was a valid council like all the other 20 ecumenical councils. But it set off a firestorm of opportunism and recrimination in the USA that we’re still dealing with. People need to make some peace over it. There were genuine good consequences and genuine bad consequences of it. We need to be honest but kind and go on with the faith and with life. It was only an episode, it wasn’t the faith. The faith is still among us.

  25. MS – I think you would feel differently if a group was telling lies about you. Would you still sit there and say that destroying your reputation with lies, was worth it, because they helped catch other people who were guilty? There is no maybe about it. They have lied about things in their press releases. David Clohessy has admitted it in court. They are on record as being Anti-Catholic, and they are in collusion with lawyers whose primary goal is to bankrupt the Church. Sadly the victims see very little of the settlement money. If you respect any group that takes advantage of victims and uses them to attack the Church, you really need to check your values.

    As a victim of abuse myself. I can tell you I have ZERO respect for how that group operates.

  26. Pagansister I think you need to do some research about abuse in the secular school system (aka – Public Schools) They have a stellar record for covering up teachers who rape students and “passing the trash” to other schools. Please take your nasty sarcasm elsewhere. Its obvious you have no concern for the abused children. You are just looking for another excuse to criticize the Catholic Church.

  27. Thank you for setting the record straight Naturestz. At the time Cardinal Law was in Boston. Therapy was the most recommended treatment for child abusers. In trying to clean up other people’s mess, he was targeted by the Boston Globe as being the cause of it all. The same thing they are trying to do to Pope Benedict

  28. midwestlady says:

    This is actually true. Be very careful about leaving a child with any adult you don’t know well enough to vouch for personally. This goes on with camp counselors, teachers, and especially coaches in percentages higher than the priesthood. It’s also found among protestant ministers, even though they’re usually married.

    Any occupation that has immature or helpless members as clientele will see this sort of thing. People who have this in mind, even subconsciously, gravitate towards these professions.

  29. Betsy Curran says:

    I am a Philadelphia Catholic who has journied with both families whose children were abused and a pastor who was unjustly removed last March. Having read all of the comments posted, I have three things to add:
    1. It is a tragedy that Father Philip Barr (age 91) was removed last year. I know, firsthand, what a hardship this has been for his family. I am grateful that, unlike Father Day Hoy, he lived to witness his exoneration.
    2. At the press conference, Archbishop Chaput indicated that he would support lifting the statute of limitations regarding criminal liability. If this happened, it could identify those who would be required to register as sex offenders.
    3. Of the 5 men that were deemed “unsuitable for ministry”, only one was determined to have had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. The others were in violation of appropriate “boundaries”.

  30. Thank You Betsy. It is so refreshing to hear from someone who actually knows first hand about the incident they are commenting on. Every time this issue of sex abuse comes up, the same blow-hards have to chime in with the same regurgitated responses. They don’t even know the parties involved, and they have no idea what it is to be an abuse victim. We have a presumption of innocense under our law, which I fully support for ALL people, in ALL cases, even in the worst cases of child abuse and terrorism. The statue of limitations is there for a reason. Beyond a certain point witnesses are not credible, and the accused does not have a fair chance of defending themselves. Thank you once again for bringing clarity and reason to this discussion.

  31. Betsy:
    I did not see the the Q and A after Archbishop Chaput’s statement.
    But, according to the National Catholic Register account, he was asked if he would support the lifting of the statute of limitations in the PA legislature. (He fought such legislation in Colorado, saying that it targeted the Catholic Church. It was defeated.):

    “When asked about whether he would support attempts to lift the statute of limitations on civil suits against sexual predators who targeted children, he said the statute of limitations had a purpose and he rejected any attempt to lift it unless it was broadly applied.

    ‘Our position is the statute of limitations is very important for the discovery of truth. We support it,’ he said. If it was lifted, he exprssed (sic) the hope that ‘all parts of the community would be treated fairly.’

    When a reporter pressed him to consider how such a position might be interpreted by abuse victims, the archbishop responded that the statute of limitations is ‘about suing people, not about reaching out to victims.’”

    I hope he does not oppose the legislation in PA as vigorously as he did in Colorado. It would undermine his credibility enormously.

  32. Betsy Curran says:

    You are correct, HMS. Archbishop Chaput did re-affirm his opposition to lifting the statute of limitations for civil suits. He affirmed the possibility of pursuing criminal sanctions. He was clear that if guilt was established the Church would fund counseling.

  33. Father Ellijah says:

    My friend you have no idea how accurate you are. In fact, even the cases in Philadelphia are a fraction of the number of real abuse victims. Some will never come forward for personal and embarrassing reasons.

  34. Catherine says:

    HMS, I agree with you. I think the Archbishop is making a tremendous mistake by opposing extension of the statute of limitations on these cases. In reading detailed reports on the Philly trial, it is clear that the Church knew full well what many of the abusers were doing, but protected them from the law, and that’s a key reason why many of them are now beyond the reach of prosecution. Offering to pay for counseling is no substitute for helping bring the criminals to justice. The Archbishop sounds like he is listening to his lawyers, and thinking of the financial welfare of the institution, not of what is right. I’m just glad that my dear father, a daily communicant who was educated in the Philadelphia Catholic schools, is not hear to see this tragedy play out.

  35. Catherine says:

    I meant “here”, not “hear”.

  36. Oregon Catholic says:

    “the archbishop responded that the statute of limitations is ‘about suing people, not about reaching out to victims.”

    Nope, sorry, it’s also about being able to bring criminal charges. See how much he reveals about his thinking in that one statement! Protect the Church, ignore the crime. It’s disgusting. Nothing has really changed.

  37. Deacon Steve says:

    Actually the statutes that were refered to were for bringing civil action against the Church, not bringing criminal charges against those that had abused the children. There are two separate statutes of limitation, one criminal and one civil. The Archbishop was refering to the civil statutes which is only about being able to sue for money. It has no bearing on being able to bring criminal charges.

  38. Catherine says:

    Thank you for that clarification. That said, although I am no fan of the trial lawyers who enrich themselves in such cases, I understand why victims, who have now seen the criminal statute of limitations expire on many of these crimes, want to punish the institution that covered the crimes up. Being offered free counseling would not work for me.

  39. Deacon Steve:
    Are you referring to the statute in Colorado, which Archbishop Chaput said discriminated against the Catholic Church?

    I do not see that there is such a distinction in the Pennsylvania bill. PA HB 832 covers both civil and criminal cases, at least that is how I read it.

    “Amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in limitation of time, further providing for unlimited time to bring civil actions, for tolling limitations of civil actions, for unlimited time to bring criminal actions and for limitation of serious criminal actions.”

    I think that the PA bishops will have a hard time fighting against this bill. The Penn State scandal will put a lot of Pennsylvanians behind it.

  40. Deacon Steve says:

    HMS the one in Colorado was I believe what the Quote from Archbishop Chaput was refering to. I think that extending the criminal statutes is ok, as long as it applies across the board. I don’t agree with extending the civil statutes. They tried in Calif where I am to extend the criminal statutes for only the cases against the priests and the Federal Courts shot it down. It has to apply to all crimes across the board or it won’t fly.

  41. Oregon Catholic says:

    Since civil lawsuits often follow criminal conviction it doesn’t make much sense to allow an extension of time to bring criminal convictions and then deny it for civil lawsuits. That would be a miscarriage of justice. If there is enough evidence for a criminal conviction there is usually more than enough for a civil conviction when it can be proven the crime was reported to the Church.

    Given that the Church concealed so much of what they were doing by moving priests around it can hardly be expected people would bring lawsuits in a timely manner. Most thought justice had been served and Father X had been put away somewhere safe only to find out the truth decades later.

  42. pagansister says:

    Ray, I’ve taught in public schools as well as a Catholic school. Research is not necessary as I am actually not unaware of what has been possibly covered up in both settings, public as well as private institutions, and other places that take care of children. FYI, I didn’t spend my working life NOT caring for the children I taught. One other thing—the only person who can tell me to take my comments else where is not you—but the man who hosts this site. Have a nice day.

Leave a Comment