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Philadelphia worshippers get letter of apology

Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali acknowledged the “pain and suffering” of those who had been abused by priests, but also lashed out at a grand jury report.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Cardinal Justin Rigali acknowledged the “pain and suffering” of those who had been abused by priests, but also lashed out at a grand jury report that he said unjustly criticized his predecessors and other members of the diocese.

The two-page letter from Rigali was tucked inside every parish bulletin in every church in the Philadelphia archdiocese on Sunday.

Rigali was not the only one distributing letters related to the grand jury report, which documented 63 cases of child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests in the archdiocese.

Members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and Other Clergy, known as SNAP, also distributed a letter to worshippers at several Philadelphia churches. That letter urged anyone who was sexually abused by a member of the clergy to call the district attorney’s office or SNAP.

The Rev. Nicholas Martino urged parishioners of the Immaculate Conception Church to take the letter home and read it, then pray for the victims, the families of victims and the offending priests, some of whom he told parishioners he knew.

“It’s easy to become self-righteous,” Martino said. “What goes on in the heart of a person only God knows.”

Since 1971, Immaculate Conception Church has been the residence at one time or another of five of the 63 priests identified as child molesters in the grand jury report released Wednesday.

For some, it was one of their last official residences before they died or were defrocked.