Chaput removes two, returns four priests to ministry
Two more priests suspended after the release of a 2011 grand jury report will be removed from public ministry in the Philadelphia archdiocese, Archbishop Charles Chaput announced late Friday morning.
The priests removed from ministry, Fr. John Bowe, 64, and Fr. David Givey, 68, were found to have violated the archdiocese’s Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. Both can appeal the decision to the Vatican.
Previously, Chaput had indicated priests found unfit for ministry could face laicization, life under supervision or a life of prayer and penance.
Kenneth Gavin, associate director of communications for the archdiocese, told NCR that generally speaking, laicization is usually pursued when sexual abuse of a minor occurs. Neither Bowe nor Givey were alleged to have sexually abuse a minor.
In addition, Chaput said that four priests were found suitable for ministry. They are Fr. Paul Castellani, 53, Msgr. John Close, 68, Fr. Steven Harris, 57, and Fr. Leonard Peterson, 70.
Gavin said the purpose of Friday’s announcement was to clarify the status of the six priests as suitable or unsuitable for ministry, and additional details concerning their futures were not available at this time.
“It’s way too early to say certain disciplinary action in individual cases [of unsuitable for ministry priests], or for those who have been found suitable for ministry, to be saying whether or not they’re going back into a parish, what parish they might go to. None of that is happening right now,” he said.
This morning’s announcement leaves 11 pending cases among the 26 priests suspended by then-archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali in the wake of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s 2011 grand jury report on the archdiocese’s handling of priest sex abuse allegations. That report stated that 37 active archdiocesan priests had allegations of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse of minors.
Chaput announced May 4 resolutions in eight of the cases, removing five priests from ministry and returning three. One of the suspended priests died before a conclusion could be reached in his case.
In a press release Friday, Chaput expressed gratitude for the work of two groups in the investigation, the Multi-Disciplinary Team headed by veteran child abuse prosecutor Gina Maisto Smith and the Archdiocesan Review Board.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.