The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, still reeling from sexual abuse charges stemming from a high profile 2011 conviction, have placed another 5 priests on administrative leave, including one that has been charged with child molestation. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput placed a 58-year old priest, Michael A. Chapman, on leave following allegations that he had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. Four other priests were placed on leave as well for undefined violations of standards of behavior and boundaries. Whether or not these are sexual in nature, we just don’t know.
The allegations against the five priests sprung from the 2011 trial of Monsignor William Lynn, the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic Church official convicted in a child sex abuse scandal. Lynn, one-time secretary for the archdiocese, was convicted and jailed for assigning a priest with a known history of sexual abuse to a parish that was not told of his predilections.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, thinks he sees through Chaput’s scheme. “There’s only one reason to delay and to lump multiple accused predator priests together for one big announcement, Chaput simply wants to try and make sure there’s just one story about child-molesting clerics, not several stories.”
In Philadelphia, 23 priests have been placed on administrative leave since 2011. 8 of those were found not guilty of charges and returned to the priesthood, 9 were discharged and the rest remain on leave pending charges and investigations. That’s still a lot of priests to be suspected of inappropriate behavior and we’re not even sure what all of them are actually accused of.
Not that far away, Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, says he was always told that the problem was under control and he’s apologized for “overlooking” pedophile priests. “When I arrived here seven years ago one of the first things I was told is that this whole question of clerical sexual abuse had been taken care of. Unfortunately I believed that.” He says he wants to uphold the hard work and dedication of the 97% of priests that do not abuse kids. I think he’s a bit high on his estimation.
So there you have it, yet another Catholic archdiocese in trouble, still hiding the truth and trying to lessen the pain of admitting that they have a problem. That’s hardly a surprise, just read the rest of the cases on Horror Show Sunday.