FEB. 16 — “Sexual abuse of children is a crime. It is always wrong and gravely evil. Protecting children, preventing child abuse and assisting victims are priorities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” stated Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia. “The Grand Jury Report makes clear that for as much as the Archdiocese has done to address child sexual abuse, there is still much to do.”

In his continuing response to the Grand Jury Report: {{more}}

* Cardinal Rigali has directed the immediate re-examination of all cases of concern to the Grand Jury, which asserts that as many as “37” priests remain in active ministry with credible allegations of child sexual abuse. This re-examination will be undertaken to determine the suitability of these priests for active ministry.

* To lead that re-examination, the Archdiocese has retained the services of Gina Maisto Smith, J.D., a partner at the law firm of Ballard Spahr. Mrs. Smith is a former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney who for nearly two decades has prosecuted child sexual assault cases. Mrs. Smith will re-examine all cases of accused priests in active ministry, as well as review the procedures employed by the Archdiocese, and make recommendations to the Cardinal. Mrs. Smith will also assist the Archdiocese in its communications in the course of dealing with the District Attorney’s Office and in responding to the Grand Jury Report.

* The Archdiocese has placed Father Joseph L. DiGregorio, Father Joseph J. Gallagher and Father Stephen B. Perzan on administrative leave. At the direction of Cardinal Rigali, all three will refrain from the public exercise of ministry pending the outcome of a second review of their cases.

The Archdiocese takes seriously the observations and recommendations of the Grand Jury Report, and remains committed to working with the Philadelphia District Attorney.

Change begins with action. The actions we announce today build on the changes that the Church has already announced, including retaining Mary Achilles as a victim services consultant, hiring Joseph Cronin Jr., J.D., Ph.D., to ensure priests’ compliance with the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries [http://bit.ly/AOPministerialstandards], and creating the position of Delegate for Investigations.

In making this announcement Cardinal Rigali said, “Many people of faith and in the community at large think that the Archdiocese does not understand the gravity of child sexual abuse. We do. The task before us now is to recognize where we have fallen short and to let our actions speak to our resolve.”