November 03, 2005

Forgive Us Our Sins

City Paper

by Mike Newall

It is the final Sunday in October, nearly six weeks since the District Attorney's office released its scathing report detailing how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia covered up four decades of sexual abuse and repeatedly protected pedophiles at the expense of children. In a recent missive to his flock, Cardinal Justin Rigali called on all area Catholics to come together to pray for the healing of victims and for the church itself.

Here at Old St. Mary's in Society Hill, morning sunlight streaks through the stained glass windows and across the wooden pews, illuminating the polished marble altar in a pool of white. The organist begins to play, the congregation stands and the Rev. Dominic Chiaravalle leads the entrance procession.

"The Cardinal has called for prayer and reparation," says Father Dom on the altar. "In the face of this current scandal, there must be more than prayer, there must be a firm commitment toward reform and renewal."

The pews are filled with roughly 100 worshipers, including representatives of four Catholic reform groups: The Association for The Rights of Catholics in the Church, Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful and Catholics Organized for Renewal. They are working toward more transparency and accountability in the church hierarchy, fuller lay participation in church leadership and justice for victims. They will hold a vigil this Saturday outside the Cardinal's City Line Avenue residence, calling on him to support a change in the statue of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse. None of the groups are based out of Old St. Mary's. Father Dom invited them to this Mass.

Posted by kshaw at November 3, 2005 01:23 PM