Philadelphia Priest Abuse Drama Spotlights Inefficiencies of Review Board

In the aftermath of the priest suspensions related to allegations of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the actions or lack thereof regarding the Archdiocesan Review Board have come into greater focus.
The independent review board, hailed as a pillar of the Catholic Church’s reform efforts in Philadelphia, examined the files and allegations of only seven of the 21 priests suspended last week.
In other cases where the review board recommended suspensions for priests, the recommendation was ignored. This is according to Ana Maria Catanzaro, who is head of the 8-person review board.
One of the priests suspended this past week was Monsignor Michael Flood who’d been accused of the sexual abuse of a minor in 1976. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a 16-year old boy told the dean of a Catholic High School that Flood was sexually abusing him. Flood, the boy’s religion teacher at the time, told the school’s dean of 16 distinct instances during which he was abused by the priest.
In spite of this old allegation, Flood was suspended only last Tuesday. To make matters worse, Cardinal Rigali publicly stated in February after the latest Grand Jury Report was released, that there were no Philadelphia priests serving in active ministry who’d been accused of sexual abuse. The Philadelphia Inquirer article that broke the Flood story did not reveal whether Flood’s personnel file was one of the seven that was reviewed by the independent review board.
It doesn’t really matter since Philadelphia Archdiocese officials have no excuse allowing a priest to continue serving in parishes with full access to children, especially after the scandals in Boston in 2002 and the implementation of the Dallas Charter a few years later.