Cardinal Rigali Announces Resignation

Cardinal Justin Rigali has announced his resignation.

From the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s press release:

“Cardinal Justin Rigali will hold a news conference this morning to announce that Pope Benedict XVI has named Archbishop Charles J. Chaput O.F.M., Cap. as the 13th Bishop and 9th Archbishop of Philadelphia. Archbishop Chaput will be Installed on Thursday, September 8, 2011, the feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul at 2:00 p.m. The Holy Father has also appointed Cardinal Rigali as Apostolic Administrator with all of the responsibilities of Archbishop until the Installation of Archbishop Chaput.

Archbishop Chaput, who is 66, is a member of the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin. He was ordained a priest in 1970 and became a bishop at the age of 43. At that time he became the Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota. Since 1997 he has served as Archbishop of Denver. A member of the Prairie Band Potowatami Tribe, Archbishop Chaput is the second Native American to be ordained a Bishop in the United States and the first Native American Archbishop.”

A brief statement from the Vatican indicates that 76-year-old Cardinal’s retirement is due to age, but the announcement comes in the wake of a high-profile sex abuse scandal in Philadelphia that came to light twice during Rigali’s eight years of leadership. Rigali was reprimanded by a grand jury in 2005 and again in February for covering up sex abuse claims and keeping priests in active ministry despite credible accusations of inappropriate conduct.

The conservative Archbishop Chaput has dealt with similar issues in Denver, publicly apologizing for 43 church-related sexual abuse cases that were settled in the city between 2005 and 2008. He is known for his firm stance against gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion and the involvement of government in healthcare.

Check back for more on the story after the Archdiocese’s news conference at 10 a.m.

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