In the nine weeks since the well-known Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual abuse of children by some clergy, a torrent of statements and responses has swept over this region. Even so, some people may have overlooked the concrete steps the Archdiocese has taken to help victims of abuse, protect children from harm and strengthen the priesthood in this region.

To help bring factual information to light in the community, the Archdiocese is distributing a series of single-sheet documents to be inserted into parish bulletins. Titled “Moving forward in faith: Renewing our commitment to victim assistance, child protection and priestly integrity,” the documents begin to arrive at parishes this month. {{more}}

The first bulletin offers information in three topic areas. A section on priests placed on administrative leave presents nine points reviewing the process in which up to 27 priests have been temporarily removed from their assignments pending a full investigation into each case. The bulletin says the actions “are neither judgments nor final determinations.”

Other topics include information about inspaniduals indicted by the grand jury and currently awaiting trial, plus a new position, delegate for investigations.

The role was created by Cardinal Rigali Feb. 16, days after the report’s release. He appointed Al Toczydlowski, a former deputy district attorney in Philadelphia who will conduct investigations into any allegations of misconduct – including sexual abuse and “boundary issues” of inappropriate conduct with minors. He will report all allegations to civil authorities and lead investigations through their end stage of a recommendation to the Archbishop. His work will be independent of any efforts to assist victims, according to the bulletin.

This new information joins other new points in the bulletin, such as payment of legal defense fees. The Archdiocese will not pay for “defendants charged with sexual assault of a minor,” the bulletin says, but will pay for legal counsel for Msgr. William Lynn “as the charges against him relate to the position he held.” As archdiocesan vicar for clergy from 1992 to 2004, he recommended clergy assignments to the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

The bulletin says the review of priests on administrative leave may be complete “within six to nine months.”

The bulletin appears in its entirety, along with numerous other statements and documents regarding the current scandal, at the web site

The factual information there and soon to be in the hands of parishioners as they leave weekend Masses should help everyone understand the Church’s commitment to addressing the scandal with truth, transparency and hope for the future.