In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report identified over 300 abusive priests in the Catholic church and detailed alleged acts of sexual abuse committed against children within six dioceses that spanned decades. This report prompted the push to remove the statute of limitations for filing claims in older cases, instigation of other state clergy abuse investigations, initiation of civil lawsuits against dioceses and clergy members, and onset of diocese-based compensation funds for survivors of clergy abuse. While these strides may appear as steps toward rectifying the abuse pervading the Catholic church, one issue left out of the conversation is that nearly 80 abusive priests continue to receive compensation.
Despite being removed from their respective ministries, the abusive priests receive both paychecks and pensions from the dioceses in which they formerly presided. Though the priests may be defrocked and relieved from their duties, this does not mean that they lose their compensation or even their status as clerics. The Pope must officially remove the priest from the priesthood and cease their ability to collect compensation. Laicization, the official process for removal of a priest, must be approved by the Pope and could take years to occur or may never take place at all.
Defrocked priests continue to receive compensation for reasons beyond the fact that only the pope can officially remove a priest from the priesthood. According to diocese officials, they believe that the Vatican may be reluctant to conduct laicization due to the advanced age and deteriorating health of certain priests. Bishops from some of the dioceses may decide to avoid the defrocking process altogether and permit the abusive priest to receive retirement compensation, which is funded by the church.
Some predatory priests who even admitted to the sexual abuse of children reside in a retirement home, Villa St. Joseph, owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Sixteen abusive priests live in the home and are enrolled in a program called “Prayer and Penance,” where they are supposedly being monitored. Instead of going through the laicization process, the priests live in the home, which is funded by the diocese. Representatives at the home state that the reason they reside there is due to the advanced age and compromised health of the residents. Unfortunately, this does not provide solace to those who survived abuse by the predatory priests who may never be punished for their actions.
If you or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse by a clergy member, contact a compassionate Delaware sexual abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. We will provide support and fiercely advocate for your rights, so that the healing process can begin.
Please call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware. We serve clients from the surrounding areas, including those in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. We also have an office in Media to assist clients in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania.