PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania - Five Catholic priests suspended last year in Philadelphia's scandal-hit archdiocese over allegations of sexual abuse have been barred from church duties, Archbishop Charles Chaput announced yesterday.
The five will be barred from saying Mass and all "public ministerial duties." Three others have been reinstated, he told a press conference.
"Dealing with the sexual abuse and protecting children has been ù and will remain ù a top priority for me and for this Archdiocese," Chaput said.
Those eight priests were among 27 suspended by Cardinal Justin Rigali after the release of a scathing grand jury report last year. The report, the third grand jury probe into the Philadelphia Archdiocese in a decade, criticized the church for failing to heed victims.
One of the priests has since died. The fates of the remaining priests remain undecided.
In some cases that is because law enforcement officials have not concluded their investigations and in other cases because Chaput has yet to decide.
Gina Maisto, a former sex crimes prosecutor hired to investigate the allegations, described a thorough investigation that reviewed 400,000 documents and interviewed 225 witnesses across the United States and abroad.
"I am optimistic that this process represents both a conclusion and a beginning for this archdiocese," Maisto said.