The New York Times today reports that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is suspending 21 priests from active ministry for charges described as ranging from "sexual abuse of a minor to boundary issues with a minor." Whatever the hell the latter is. Whatever it is, you can be assured it was traumatic for the minor involved. Interestingly, there are a lot more priests involved in this scandal. The archdiocese says that "three others already had been placed on administrative leave after the grand jury detailed accusations against them. Five others would have been suspended, the church said in a statement, but three are no longer active and two are no longer active in the Philadelphia Archdiocese." So that's another eight of these bastards that should be counted. The story continues: "The church said that in eight cases, no further investigation was warranted." And, I'm sorry, I just have to wonder, given the Church's sterling record of candid transparency in these matters, just why further investigation (by the Church, don't forget, not prosecutors or secular investigators) of these other eight guys wasn't warranted.
But of course this wouldn't be the sexual scandal in the Catholic Church if things weren't more sordid than just the fact that priests sexually abused kids for years while the church did nothing. No, in this case the church did not name these 21 criminals. The victims and their families of course are outraged, but that has never bothered the church anywhere. Parishioners, who keep the Church solvent, will not find out about whether their priest was one of the rats when they don't show up for services tomorrow. Typical. The faithful are ignored.
Further, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali flat out lied back in February when he denied that he had any priests with charges pending against them still in active ministry. That was bullshit, and as if to underscore the fact, a few days after the announcement His Eminence suspended three priests. Of course, there was no explanation why he didn't tell the truth before. I have a theory: it's because the Catholic Church's upper hierarchy is filled with inveterate liars. It's a requirement for the job.
The Philadelphia archdiocese now faces the prospect of having to pay millions and millions of dollars in claims by victims. Like the Church everywhere--following the example of Jesus, I'm sure--the good Cardinal and his bevy of lawyers will resist fiercely and at length.
Oh, I almost forgot: the Cardinal has apologized. He is "truly sorry."
UPDATE I: The archdiocese has released the names of the 21 priests suspended. See the CBS News notice cited below.