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July 19th, 2011
07:56 AM ET

Pope accepts resignation of Philadelphia archbishop amid sex scandal

By the CNN Wire Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) –The new leader of Philadelphia's Catholic community is geared up to cope with the sex abuse scandal rocking the archdiocese and promises to "find a way through it."

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver, who takes the reins from Cardinal Justin Rigali as the new Philadelphia archbishop, says he's not intimidated by the challenges dropped on his plate.

Amid American church abuse scandal, Philadelphia stands out

"No bishop will solve any issues on his own - he needs everyone involved. This is not my problem, it's our problem," said Chaput, introduced on Tuesday as the huge region's new archbishop.

"We'll find a way through it, because we really do believe the church is the body of Christ."

Chaput was ordained a priest in 1970. He became a bishop at the age of 43 and has served as archbishop of Denver since 1997. A member of the Prairie Band Potowatami Nation, Chaput is the second Native American to be ordained a bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop.

Speaking at a news conference with Rigali in Philadelphia, Chaput said he hopes the church and the community will approach issues of sexual abuse and any future reparations with a combination of pastoral counseling and prudence.

The change comes five months after a Philadelphia grand jury report accused the archdiocese of failing to investigate claims of sexual abuse by priests against children. But Rigali stressed during the news conference that his resignation had nothing to do with the scandal.

"When bishops turn 75, they present their letter of resignation to the pope, and that's exactly what I did. In the meantime, by all means, we've had all of these problems which we are endeavoring to face and to resolve as best we possibly can ... so there's no particular relationship to my resignation," Rigali said.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said he felt Rigali tried to do what he thought was best for the church.

"I commend him for promptly removing over 20 priests with outstanding allegations of improper relations with minors ... I hope that Archbishop Chaput follows through on these initiatives," Williams said in a statement.

The grand jury report led to the Philadelphia district attorney's office criminally charging four Philadelphia priests and a parochial school teacher with raping and assaulting boys in their care. A former high-ranking archdiocese official was accused of allowing the abusive priests to have access to children.

All five pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse and conspiracy charges in April. Edward Avery and Charles Engelhardt were charged with assaulting a 10-year-old boy at St. Jerome Parish in Philadelphia from 1998 to 1999. Bernard Shero, a teacher at the school, is charged with assaulting the same boy there in 2000. Avery was defrocked in 2006. James Brennan, another priest, is accused of assaulting a different boy, a 14-year-old, in 1996.

Monsignor William Lynn, who served as the secretary for clergy under then-Philadelphia Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the alleged assaults.

From 1992 until 2004, Lynn was responsible for investigating reports that priests had sexually abused children.

The grand jury found that Lynn, 60, endangered children, including the victims in these most recent cases, by knowingly allowing dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children.

In addition to the charges, the grand jury alleged that as many as 37 priests remained in ministry in Pennsylvania despite solid, credible allegations of abuse. Rigali had initially challenged that claim, but eventually 29 of them were placed on administrative leave and no further investigation was warranted on the remaining eight.

"I want to be clear: These administrative leaves are interim measures. They are not in any way final determinations or judgments," Rigali said in a statement in March.

In the months following the release of the grand jury report, Rigali, 76, who succeeded Bevilacqua in 2003, was named in several civil suits against the Philadelphia Archdiocese alleging sexual abuse.

This year's grand jury report is the city's second issued regarding priests' alleged sexual abuse in Philadelphia. The first grand jury report was released in 2003. A gag order imposed by a Philadelphia judge in the case remains in effect, barring all parties involved in the criminal case from talking to the media.

–CNN's Sarah Hoye and Hada Messia contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Crime • Pennsylvania • Sex abuse

soundoff (378 Responses)
  1. AvdBerg

    By reading the comments on this Blog it seems very obvious to us that all the foundations of the earth out of course (Psalms 82:5). For a better understanding of this scriptural verse we invite you to read the latest article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Please ignore any messages that inform you that we are on a troll and that ask you to activate the abuse button or even refer you to a gaychristian website. It is an attempt to discredit the work of our Ministry, which is for the edifying of the Body of Christ – His Church (Eph. 4:12).

    July 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • .....

      Thanks for proving what a troll you are by posting the same thing over and over again. This AvdBerg is a troll on this site trying to sell their cult and book, when ever you see their post click the report abuse link to get rid of this troll.

      July 29, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  2. Albert Martino

    If you are going to spew hatred at the Catholic Church, be honest at least and do NOT call yourself a "Christian". You are no more a Christain than the nut murderer in Norway.

    Who is the father of your hateful spirit? You know the answer, my dear. You know the answer.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  3. AvdBerg

    A number of people that have written to respond to this article have spoken of the interpretation of the Bible, which is the number one problem in this present world as the Bible itself teaches us that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). Only few people (Matthew 7:14) are able to understand the Bible and as long as mankind remains separated from God, the Word of God will remain a mystery.

    Mankind in his natural state is unable to understand the Bible and unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

    There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). The only thing that separates the Natural body from the Spiritual body is the Baptism of Repentance (Mark 1:4). To repent means: to change spirits and to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan, whose spirit mankind is of (Luke 9:55), unto God (Acts 26:18). This is not an interpretation. Many people search the Bible for in them they think they have eternal life, but when we bring them the Scriptures they don’t believe us (John 5:38,39). Confused? There is no need to be confused any longer. For a better understanding of the mystery of God we invite you to read all the pages and articles of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    So, before mankind will be able to understand the Word of God, mankind requires to be converted and transformed by God (not by any religion) and only then mankind is able to understand the Bible, as it is God (John 1:1).

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    July 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • ....

      Still trolling trying to sell your cult and book it's complete garbage. Click the report abuse link to get rid of this troll.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  4. hethathathanear

    Here is the real name of the Catholic Church: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH

    July 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  5. lacverbum

    I believe that Christ builds her Church on the foundation of truth and justice for the salvation of this world. The Church continues to exist and stay unskaken amid tribulation. The nature of this church is holy, apostolic and traditional through more than 2000 years. The Church has sinners and saints and needs to be purified. I pray that the new Arbishop accompanies the Church on the path to God's kingdom in heaven where every member of this Church will gather with the holy men and holy women to praise God. I pray for his ability to lead the Church in justice, wisdom and holiness.

    July 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • frank

      NO.

      July 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Lacverbum wrote: “I believe that Christ builds her Church on the foundation of truth and justice for the salvation of this world. The Church continues to exist and stay unskaken amid tribulation. The nature of this church is holy, apostolic and traditional through more than 2000 years. The Church has sinners and saints and needs to be purified. I pray that the new Arbishop accompanies the Church on the path to God's kingdom in heaven where every member of this Church will gather with the holy men and holy women to praise God. I pray for his ability to lead the Church in justice, wisdom and holiness.”

      First off, it is HIS Churches “PLURAL“, NOT “her church”! I don’t mean to have you anguish over my sometimes viewed as Rude perspectives but I am not Always on the Fence; for I do go from one side to the other on many Occasions. “True” Salvation is when one begins to see Truthfulness and Wickedness and the Evils of Progressive Manhood and Recessive Womanhood in One’s Worldly Position within the Cultures that They Propagate and do Embellish. How many of Humanity’s Prayers and Requests to Pray for; Go Unanswered? Way More than Those Subjectively called as Being Answered I’d Bet!

      You “misspelled” two words in your writing. They are “unskaken” and “Arbishop”.

      The Nature of All churches is NOT “holy, apostolic and traditional” through more than 2000 years, but the Natures of all Christian Churches from His Motherly Church, the RCC and all His Wives, The Christian Churches of All Denominations are Just How it is!

      Nuff Said

      July 20, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • SoundOfForest

      Amen to Lacverbum.

      July 21, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • Honey, AvdBerg is at the door again.

      Richard S. Kaiser
      So someone who can't tell what to capitalize to save his soul is criticizing a couple spelling errors ? You BOTH need to get an education. And after your English class stop by the Philosophy Dept and check on the Logic course schedule.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:16 am |
  6. Reality

    Why did today's pope, prelates, preachers and rabbis, so focused on society's se-xual sins, lose sight of clerical se-xual sins?

    FEAR, SHAME and GUILT and COVER IT ALL UP!!!

    Obviously ordination in any religion is not assurance of good behavior !!!!!

    Neither is coronation!!! e.g. Henry VIII, King David.

    Neither is marriage as 50% of those men convicted of pedophilia are married.

    Neither is being elected president of the USA!! e.g. Billy "I did not have se-x with that girl" Clinton, John "Marilyn Monroe" Kennedy"

    Neither is possessing super athletic skill!!! e.g. Tiger "I am so sorry for getting caught" Woods.

    Neither is being an atheist or pagan since pedophilia is present in all walks of life.

    If someone is guilty of a crime in this litany of "neithers" they should or should have been penalized as the law dictates to include jail terms for pedophiliacs (priests, rabbis, evangelicals, boy scout leaders, married men/women), divorce for adultery (Clinton, Kennedy, Woods), jail terms for obstruction of justice (Clinton, Cardinal Law, Cardinal Rigali?) and the death penalty or life in prison for murder ("Kings David and Henry VIII).
    --------------------------------------

    July 20, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • Floyd

      @Reality, you normally really tick me off with your posts but this one makes sense.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Reality wrote; “Why did today's pope, prelates, preachers and rabbis, so focused on society's se-xual sins, lose sight of clerical se-xual sins?”

      The Moral Relativities of Manhood and yes, even Womanhood are Sometimes Skewered in Shameless Venues wherein Pedophilia Rises up Its’ Serpentine-Like Head! As the RCC goes through the Millstone of Law, Many Very Young and Teenaged Children in Certain Asian Countries are Filled with Places willing to sell Those who are willing to Buy, Very Young and Teenaged Youths of Both Genders! What are Christ’s Motherly Church and His Wives’ Churches Doing about This Appalling and Ongoing Dens of Iniquities?

      Reality wrote; “FEAR, SHAME and GUILT and COVER IT ALL UP!!!”

      Huh?

      Reality wrote; “Obviously ordination in any religion is not assurance of good behavior !!!!!”

      I Wholeheartedly Concur Reality!

      Reality wrote; “Neither is coronation!!! e.g. Henry VIII, King David.”

      Let’s Please keep History from Entering Our Today Times.

      Reality wrote; “Neither is marriage as 50% of those men convicted of pedophilia are married.”

      Where Oh Reality is; Your Proof of this coming from?

      Reality, I do not want to criticize any more of your Posting because you are ranting and raving Posthumously and such serves no relative Purpose except to You relieving yourself of UnabridgedTensions.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • Honey, AvdBerg is at the door again.

      @Richard
      Oh I get it. English is not your primary language. Apology.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • Reality

      http://www.minddisorders.com/Ob-Ps/Pe-doph-ilia.html

      "The onset of pe-dophilia usually occurs during adolescence. Occasional pe-dophiles begin their activities during middle age but this late onset is uncommon. In the United States, about 50% of men arrested for pe-dophilia are married. "

      And this from Wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pe-dophilia

      Due to the stereotype that pe-dophiles are always male, it has been difficult to determine the prevalence of female pe–dophiles; however, studies in the UK and USA suggest that a range of 5% to 20% of child se-xual abuse offenses are perpetrated by women.[20]”

      So even if B16 removed the celibacy and gender requirements for the priesthood, pe-dophilia would still be a problem.

      July 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  7. SoundOfForest

    The Church and the Pope are doing the right thing. The Catholic Church can experience revival with a renewed commitment to Jesus and by returning to the Biblical truth.

    July 20, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Without acknowledging guilt and complicity, punishing the perverts, and changing the way business is done, I don't see any hope for the RCC.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Floyd

      @JohnQuest – those very changes are happening, thankfully. We Catholics too want justice for the criminals and a watchful eye as this reform unfolds. The scrutiny is justified for the RCC hierarchy but the knocks of our faith and who we are is not.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:42 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.