3 Priests Removed From Ministry During Sex Investigation

Three priests were removed from the ministry following a sex investigation in Philadelphia. The priests were permanently removed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Revs. Joseph Gallagher and Mark Gaspar were suspended two years ago in the scandal created by a 2011 grand jury report.

The report ultimately led to a landmark conviction of an archdiocese official on child endangerment charges. Along with the high-ranking official, two other priests and a Catholic school teacher were also convicted.

Gallagher was the most prominent name of the report, which was released in February 2011. He was called a priest who remained in ministry despite several credible allegations of abuse. One of his accusers was Daniel Neill, who committed suicide in 2009. Neill took his life after being told his allegation couldn’t be substantiated.

And the archdiocese’s failure to act in Neill’s case, as well as at least two others, mean that Gallagher will never face criminal charges. Marci Hamilton, who represents Neill’s family, stated:

“Gallagher belongs in prison, but because of the Archdiocese’s cover up, the criminal statutes of limitations for these victims expired long ago.”

The three priests removed from ministry are Gallagher, Gaspar, and Monsignor Richard Powers. All three were previously suspended, though Powers’ suspension was not related to the 2011 report. Instead, his name was on a list of priests who were previously accused of sexual abuse.

With the exception of Powers, all the other priests on the list were either dead, were already removed from ministry, or were “living a life of prayer and penance,” according to a statement by the archdiocese.

All three priests removed from ministry can appeal their cases to the Vatican.

The 2011 report ended with 26 priests being placed on leave. Ten of those cases have been found to involve substantiated allegations of abuse. One priest was arrested, while another died before his case could be investigated fully. Seven other cases are still pending.

Do you think the three priests removed from ministry should be allowed back, or is the archdiocese right to permanently revoke their ability to minister?

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