21 priests taken out of churches

Twenty-one priests have been put on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the fallout of a Philadelphia grand jury investigation’s findings last month in which four priests were criminally charged.

In announcing the moves, Cardinal Justin Rigali announced yesterday that the grand jury report “presented us with serious concerns that demand a decisive response.”

The report identified 37 “cases of concern” in which priests remained in ministry despite the Archdiocese’s awareness of credible abuse allegations brought against them. The cases were independently reviewed by a legal team retained by the Archdiocese. Preliminary findings led to the team’s recommendations that the priests be put on leave.

“I want to be clear: These administrative leaves are interim measures. They are not in any way final determinations or judgments,” Rigali said.

The Feb. 10 grand jury report found that three priests and a parochial school teacher allegedly sexually assaulted two boys between 1996 and 2000. In addition, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocesan official responsible for investigating abuse allegations, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child for allowing suspected priests to access children.

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