Pope Accepts Resignation of Philadelphia Archbishop

Posted July 19th, 2011 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of the leader of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in the U.S. city of Philadelphia — which has faced accusations of covering up sexual abuse by priests.

The Vatican said Tuesday that Cardinal Justin Rigali's departure was on the grounds of age. The 76-year-old Rigali submitted his resignation when he reached the traditional retirement age of 75, but the pope did not immediately act on it.

Cardinal Rigali has been under pressure for his handling of the church sex abuse scandal.

In February, a grand jury report accused the Philadelphia archdiocese of keeping 37 priests in active ministry despite claims they had sexually abused young people.

The report resulted in criminal charges against a top church official as well as several priests and a Catholic school teacher, and also prompted the archdiocese to suspend more than 20 priests.

Rigali, a former bishop in St. Louis , spent decades as an official at the Vatican.

He is being replaced in Philadelphia by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver .

The Catholic Church has been shaken by hundreds of reports of sex abuse by priests, which began coming to light about nine years ago in the United States and later in Europe.

Victims say the church paid little attention to decades of priests' sexual and physical abuse of children and tried to protect the guilty.

The church has paid millions of dollars to settle some of the claims of sex abuse in the United States. Roman Catholic officials have said the church is working with the proper authorities to investigate and prevent abuse.