5 priests barred permanently for sex abuse

May 6, 2012 at 8:54 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, May 6 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Archdiocese ordered five priests barred permanently from the ministry following a child sexual abuse investigation, officials said.

The decision to eject the priests from serving as ministers came after a 14-month internal review, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. One was found guilty of sexual abuse and the others were dismissed for violating the Archdiocese's Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. Three other priests were reinstated because allegations against them could not be substantiated while the fate of 17 other suspended priests remained undetermined, the newspaper said.

The clergy who were removed were the Rev. George Cadwallader, 58, Msgr. Francis Feret, 75, the Rev. Robert Povish, 47, the Rev. John Reardon, 65, and the Rev. Thomas Rooney, 61.

"We can't change the past," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said Friday. "But I pray, and I do believe, that the lessons of the last year have made our church humbler, wiser and a more vigilant guardian of our people's safety."

Chaput did not comment on the details of the individual cases, including when the misconduct happened or how many accusers came forward, citing the victims' right to privacy.

Protesters demonstrated against Chaput's lack of details outside the Center City offices where the archbishop announced the decision.

"He has given us absolutely no information about the alleged crimes or about how they were investigated," said Terence McKiernan, president of Bishop Accountability, which tracks clergy sex-abuse cases. "Chaput needed to describe in detail the allegations, the investigations and his decisions. He has not done so."

The three reinstated priests are the Rev. Philip Barr, 92, who has been retired since 1995; Msgr. Michael Flood, 72, of St. Luke's Church in Glenside, and the Rev. Michael Chapman, 56, whose last assignment was at Ascension of Our Lord in Philadelphia.

The archdiocese's 14-month investigation followed a February 2011 grand jury report that accused local church leaders of ignoring evidence of clergy sex abuse.

"We can't change the past," Chaput said. "But I pray, and I do believe, that the lessons of the last year have made our church humbler, wiser and a more vigilant guardian of our people's safety."

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