With the start of Lent next week, the Philadelphia Archdiocese has planned a special service to pray for victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of its priests. But the penitential service troubles some adult victims.
A letter from Cardinal Justin Rigali has called for the healing of victims and the prevention of future abuse.
But the activist organization Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, has asked the cardinal to cancel the service.
“These kinds of events and services are part and parcel of how American bishops have long dealt with this crisis by essentially pretending that it’s over,” said David Clohessy, director of SNAP. “And all they have to do now is apologize to wounded adults. But wounded adults shouldn’t be the primary focus right now. Kids should be the primary focus.”
Clohessy said Rigali should take concrete steps to prevent future abuse. He pointed to the recent grand jury report that said 37 priests accused of child sexual abuse were still in active ministry.
Archdiocesan officials declined comment. Rigali has hired a former Philadelphia assistant district attorney to look into the allegations. In a recent statement, he said the archdiocese does take the grand jury’s allegations seriously and is working with the district attorney’s office.