Three American priests have been permanently removed from public ministry over allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct involving minors.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia declared on April 6 that Reverend Joseph J. Gallagher and Reverend Mark Gaspar are unsuitable for ministry due to violations of church values, while also permanently removing Monsignor Richard T. Powers from services.
The first priest, Gallagher, is twice accused of sexual misconduct with altar boys during the 1980s, with one of his accusers killing himself in 2009 after church officials declined to act against Gallagher.
“Gallagher belongs in prison, but because of the Archdiocese’s cover up, the criminal statutes of limitations for these victims expired long ago,” said Marci Hamilton, the attorney for the family of the deceased victim.
The church refused to provide further details on the second priest, Gaspar, but added that such abuse can vary between inappropriate comments to the “grooming” of abuse victims.
The third priest, Powers, was suspended over allegations that he sexually abused a 17-year-old girl in Venezuela 40 years ago.
The Roman Catholic Church has been hit by numerous scandals in the US and Europe in the past few years, involving allegations of covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests, to protect pedophiles and its own reputation.
Reports discovered that more than 4,000 US priests have faced sexual abuse allegations since the 1950s, in cases involving more than 10,000 children – mostly boys.
On March 13, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was named the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church, with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) calling on newly-elected Pope Francis to put fighting sex crimes by priests on top priority of churchly duties.