Charles Chaput: New cardinal dealt with sex abuse in Colorado

Cardinal Justin Rigali announced his retirement yesterday in an oddly cheerful sendoff. Though he gave age as the official reason for his departure, the beleaguered archdiocese’s ongoing sex abuse scandal will likely haunt his legacy.

Successor, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, has also received criticism for his handling widespread abuse cases.

“He was not in any way helpful to the survivor community,” said Barbara Doris of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, Midwest. “He fought the reform of the statue of limitations, he bullied survivors into mediation to protect his secrets and he kept documents from being released.”

In May, the very investigator Rigali appointed to chair an archdiocese internal investigative panel, attorney Ana Maria Cantazaro wrote in her initial report that he “failed miserably at being open and transparent” regarding the allegations.

“We think that the fact that it was accepted now is closely related to the grand jury reports and the fact that he clearly was not doing his due diligence in reporting abusive priests,” said Karen Polesir, Pa. chapter director of SNAP.

True reform still needed

Advocates say Chaput’s appointment doesn’t alleviate the archdiocese’s overarching problem: restoring confidence through real reform.

“I don’t think that [the archdiocese] can ever heal until they actually do something to make significant changes,” Doris said. “Parents are very concerned about the safety of their children and right now they have absolutely no reason to believe that anything has changed or that their children are safe.”

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