NBCPhiladelphia.com - Denise Nakano
We are learning the identities of 21 priests, suspended by the Philadelphia Archdiocese and local parishioners are coming to grip with the allegations.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese has begun identifying the 21 priests who were placed on administrative leave Monday after a scathing grand jury report related to child molestation released last month.
Cardinal Justin Rigali said Tuesday that the priests were removed from ministry while their cases are reviewed. Rigali said that the 21 priests were placed on administrative leave.
"These have been difficult weeks since the release of the Grand Jury Report: difficult most of all for victims of sexual abuse, but also for all Catholics and for everyone in our community," said Rigali in a press release.
One of those priests is Rev. Andrew McCormick, Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Swedesburg, Pa.
The two-year grand jury investigation into priest abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has resulted last month in charges against two priests, a former priest and a Catholic school teacher. They are accused of raping young boys, while a former high-ranking church official was accused of transferring problem priests to new parishes without warning anyone of prior sex-abuse complaints.
"I wish to express again my sorrow for the sexual abuse of minors committed by any members of the Church, especially clergy," Rigali said. "I am truly sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse, as well as to the members of our community who suffer as a result of this great evil and crime."
After the Grand Jury report named 37 “cases of concern,” the Archdiocese hired Gina Maisto Smith, a former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney who has prosecuted child sex cases for two decades, to look into all 37 cases with her team and a forensic psychiatrist, Rigali said.
Upon Smith’s recommendations, 21 priests were suspended but that doesn't mean the church is saying they are guilty of the allegations.
"I want to be clear: These administrative leaves are interim measures," Rigali said. "They are not in any way final determinations or judgments."
Rigali also strived to console Catholics.
“I know that for many people their trust in the Church has been shaken,” Rigali said. “I pray that the efforts of the Archdiocese to address these cases of concern and to re-evaluate our way of handling allegations will help rebuild that trust in truth and justice."
“Kids in Philly are now safer, but only thanks to the combined efforts of police, prosecutors, parishioners and, most important, victims,” Isely said in a statement.
Here is the full list of the priests placed on leave and where some of the priests were recently assigned, according to sources:
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