New DC archbishop had backing for Philly post

Mark Abrams
April 07, 2019 - 4:00 am
ST. LOUIS, MO - 19 JUNE: Wilton Gregory, Bishop of Belleville, IL., and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gets their annual three day meeting under way June 19, 2003 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bill Greenblatt/Getty Images


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The newly appointed archbishop of Washington had been among the top candidates to lead the Philadelphia archdiocese out of the clergy sex abuse crisis and cover-ups cited in two grand jury reports.

In 2005, a bombshell grand jury report on misconduct by the Roman Catholic clergy was issued by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.

Six years later, a second Philadelphia grand jury issued its report showing there was still a crisis and an ongoing cover-up.

In 2011, the Vatican had had enough.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia's archbishop, had reached retirement age and Pope Benedict XVI decided it was time for a change.

Rocco Palmo, a South Philadelphia journalist who covers the Vatican and Catholic Church affairs, disclosed that Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory was favored to take over in Philadelphia.

"Wilton Gregory's name was actually the first name that the Vatican's ambassador here at the time in the states had sent to Rome," Palmo recalled. "But the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican body that advises the pope on naming bishops, felt that they wanted a more aggressive response in terms of defending the statute of limitations and thus preventing the church from lawsuits. That's how the current archbishop, Charles Chaput, emerged."

Palmo says Gregory is 71 and the Vatican has tapped him to calm the storm enveloping the church in Washington.

A task Palmo says Gregory is ready and willing to embrace.