PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Archdiocese of Philadelphia placed two retired priests on administrative leave Wednesday, bringing to 23 the number of priests suspended following a scathing grand jury report on allegations of child sex abuse.
Cardinal Justin Rigali placed the priests on leave pending an investigation. He did not identify them.
One priest retired in 2006 and has assisted at parishes in another diocese where he lives, and that diocese has been informed of the suspension, the archdiocese said in a statement. The other priest retired in 2005 and, because of health problems, is not serving in any public ministry.
Last month, a grand jury blasted the archdiocese in a report that charged two priests, a former priest and a Catholic school teacher. A former high-ranking church official was also accused of transferring problematic priests without warning anyone at their new parishes of sex-abuse complaints. Earlier this month, the archdiocese suspended 21 priests who were named as child molestation suspects in the report.
The priests suspended Wednesday were not referenced in the grand jury report, but the church’s actions are the result of a continuing dialogue with the district attorney’s office, said Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
The actions come at the recommendation of Gina Maisto Smith, a former city child abuse prosecutor who is conducting an independent review of cases for the archdiocese. In its statement, the archdiocese said Smith and a team of experts will more fully investigate the cases of administrative leave.
“These steps are interim measures and are not in any way final determinations or judgments,” the statement said.
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