A scathing grand jury report accused the Philadelphia Archdiocese of providing safe haven for as many as 37 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Most of those priests remain active in the ministry. 'The possibility that even one predatory priest, not to mention three dozen, might still be serving in parishes — “on duty in the archdiocese today, with open access to new young prey,” as the grand jury put it — has unnerved many Roman Catholics here and sent the church reeling in the latest and one of the most damning episodes in the American church since it became engulfed in the sexual abuse scandal nearly a decade ago. The extent of the scandal here, including a cover-up that the grand jury said stretched over many years, is so great that Philadelphia is “Boston reborn,” said David J. O’Brien, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Dayton, referring to the archdiocese where widespread sexual abuse exploded in public in 2002.'
“The thing that is significant about Philadelphia is the assumption that the authorities had made changes and the system had been fixed,” said Terence McKiernan, the president of BishopAccountability.org, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country. “But the headline is that in Philadelphia, the system is still broke.”
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, many are trying to come to grips with the legacy of sexual abuse in the wake of Cardinal Roger Mahony's final weeks in his post
As problems of sexual abuse strike closer to the Vatican itself, 'an Italian court has convicted a priest of molesting boys and sentenced him to 15 years in prison
' 'in a case closely watched because his bishop admitted knowing of the abuse allegations, but didn't remove the priest.
The trial of Rev. Ruggero Conti, a politically connected priest, garnered international headlines last year when his bishop was called to testify about the molestation just as the clerical abuse scandal that erupted in Europe inched closer to the Vatican'.
Last November, 'the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York to be its president on Tuesday in a surprise move that reaffirmed the conservative direction of the Roman Catholic Church in America.
The vote makes Archbishop Dolan the most visible face of the church in the United States. It also suggested that the bishops were seeking a powerful and reliably orthodox voice to reassert the church’s teaching in the court of public opinion and to disarm critics who insist that the bishops have lost their moral authority as a result of their role in the sexual abuse scandals.
For the first time, the bishops overlooked tradition and passed over a vice president who was running for the presidency, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson. Bishop Kicanas represents the more liberal “social justice” tradition of the American church and is known for advocating dialogue between Catholic liberals and traditionalists. Archbishop Dolan is considered a moderate conservative.
Archbishop Dolan said in a news conference after the vote that he would carry on the forceful opposition of his predecessor, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, to the recent health care overhaul because the bishops believed it would permit expanded government financing for abortion.'