In letter, Chaput warns of ‘painful’ year to come
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, in a pastoral letter read Sunday, is warned the region’s Roman Catholics that 2012 could be a “painful” year for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, marked by school and parish closings, a bruising sex-abuse trial, and tough decisions on the status of dozens of priests accused of misconduct with minors.
A blue-ribbon panel appointed to study the needs of archdiocesan schools will issue its report in January and “likely counsel that some, and perhaps many, schools must close or combine,” Chaput wrote in his two-page letter, which is to be read aloud at all parishes.
“The archdiocese remains strongly committed to the work of Catholic education,” he continued, but “that mission is badly served by trying to sustain unsustainable schools.”
He also said he expects to decide in “the first months” of the new year which of 27 priests under investigation for suspected misconduct with minors should be restored to ministry, and which will permanently removed.
The priests were suspended in March after a Philadelphia grand jury said 37 archdiocesan priests in active ministry had unresolved misconduct accusations against them. A team appointed by the archdiocese concluded that about 10 of the charges were frivolous, and is investigating the others.
“To whatever degree complacency and pride once had a home in our local church,” Chaput wrote, “events in the coming year will burn them out. The process will be painful,” he warned, but the goal is to “restore the joy and zeal of our discipleship.”
The letter was dated Thursday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which also marked the third month since his installation as archbishop. [more]