NEWTON, Mass., July 20, 2011 — Cardinal Justin Rigali’s resignation as archbishop of Philadelphia shows clearly that the Vatican is beginning to hear faithful Catholic voices, according to reform group Voice of the Faithful.
Pope Benedict XVI accepted Rigali’s resignation letter yesterday, July 19, submitted as required last year when he turned 75, several months before he was expected to step down. His successor, Denver archbishop Charles Chaput, was announced during an archdiocesan press conference, also July 19.
“We have long called for bishops to be held accountable for their records on child protection, most recently in Philadelphia,” said Dan Bartley, VOTF president. “Cardinal Rigali’s earlier-than-expected resignation shows that at least some bishops who have not followed the 2002 Dallas child protection charter will face consequences.”
Under Rigali, the Philadelphia diocese had failed to remove priests from active ministry after credible allegations of sex abuse, failed to report all the allegations to its own review board and also failed to report credible allegations to civil authorities.
A recent Philadelphia grand jury report on the allegations of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up has led so far to criminal charges of child rape against priests and a Catholic school teacher. Prosecutors also have charged a monsignor in charge of priest assignments with child endangerment for shifting credibly accused priests among parishes, the first time a church official has faced such charges.
“Rigali’s resignation is a triumph for the faithful in Philadelphia and everywhere,” Bartley said. “The Vatican machinery has moved too slowly and sometimes not moved at all to protect children from clerical predators. But the leadership change in Philadelphia demonstrates that they are listening ever more closely when faithful Catholics point out misdeeds and demand accountability.”
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and shape structural change within the Church. More information is at https://www.votf.org.
Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, 617-291-3495 Cell