PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia today addressed the grand jury report on priest sex abuse and his response to it during his Ash Wednesday mass in center city.

Cardinal Justin Rigali (above), speaking briefly in a public setting for the first time about the grand jury report (see previous story) and the actions the archdiocese has taken, acknowledged what he called “the grave sins of sexual abuse committed against minors, in particular by members of the clergy.”

Rigali also stressed that the archdiocese is taking steps to ensure that clergy-sex abuse claims will be looked at differently in the future.

“We are likewise re-evaluating the way we handle allegations,” he told the congregants.  “The protection of children is paramount.”

The cardinal says the 21 priests he suspended on Tuesday will have their cases — raised by the grand jury as a cause for concern — re-reviewed by a former child sex abuse prosecutor (see related story).

Rigali again expressed his deep sorrow to the victims of priest sex abuse, and expressed regret for the suffering the abuse cases also cause for the many priests who serve faithfully in their ministry.

WEB EXTRA: Watch Cardinal Rigali’s Homily

Reported by Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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