WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali on Wednesday expressed concern for victims of sexual abuse at a Mass commemorating the start of Lent, amid accusations he and other church leaders are not doing enough to fight the problem.
Recent developments have included a grand jury report critical of the Philadelphia Archdiochese and two civil lawsuits detailing alleged sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
“During this Lent, we are especially conscious of the grave sins of sexual abuse committed against minors, in particular by members of the clergy,” Rigali said at his home church Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
“We renew our commitment to make every effort possible to prevent these evil acts and to protect children from harm,” he said.
The comments follow the Archdiocese’s decision to place 21 priests on administrative leave and start an internal investigation of the complaints lead by a former assistant district attorney with experience in molestation cases.
The grand jury had identified 37 cases of abuse, including three priests already placed on leave and two other priests who are no longer in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. It also criticized how the Archdiocese handled sexual abuse cases in the past.
Rigali said the Archdiocese was re-examining “cases of concern to the grand jury about allegations of abuse of minors or boundary issues by some priests. We are likewise reevaluating the way we handle allegations. The protection of children is paramount.”
Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton