This has not been a good week for some local Roman Catholic churches.
Twenty-one Philadelphia area priests received sex probe suspensions because of a grand jury report released in February. On the Philadelphia archdiocese suspension of priests, the New York Times (www.NYTimes.com ) is reporting, “The Mass suspension was the single-most sweeping in the history of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.” The priests who have been suspended cannot celebrate Mass or hear confessions; they were only given a few hours to leave their parishes.
Unfortunately, the Philadelphia archdiocese was a bit ‘delayed’ in releasing the identities of the suspected child molester priests. The names are now public and it is my understanding the priests have been removed from ministry while their cases are reviewed.
National headlines have read ‘Philadelphia priests’ suspended so I did not expect to recognize any of the priests or parishes on the list. It is very disturbing to learn that four of the priests suspended for sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior with minors are from our local Main Line community:
- Monsignor John A. Close of St. Catherine of Siena in Wayne, Pa.
- Rev. Steven J. Harris of St. Issac Jogues Catholic Church in Wayne, Pa.
- Rev. Daniel J. Hoy of Our Lady of the Assumption in Strafford, Pa.
- Fr. Peter Talocci of St. Patrick’s in Malvern, Pa.
Remember the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese in 2002. The Boston Globe coverage of the criminal prosecution of five priests gave national limelight to the child molester issue in the Roman Catholic Church. (The Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage). The newspaper’s front-page coverage of this issue encouraged other victims to come forward, which resulted in more lawsuits. The cost of legal defense for the Boston archdiocese was staggering. With the identities of the Philadelphia priests now known, we may see a similar situation to Boston with other victims coming forward with allegations of abuse.