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Embattled Catholic Cardinal retiring to East Tennessee

3:15 PM, Jul 19, 2011   |    comments
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali
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The head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese who retired in the midst of accusations that it covered up a long-running priest sex abuse scandal, is moving to East Tennessee.

Cardinal Justin F. Rigali led nearly 1.5 million Catholics as Philadelphia's Archbishop since 2003.  Before that, he was Archbishop of St. Louis, where Knoxville's current Bishop, Richard Stika, served as Rigali's secretary, chancellor, and vicar general.

A 2005 grand jury report charged Rigali and his predecessor hid credible sex abuse complaints made against dozens of Philadelphia priests.

Earlier this year, the head of the Archdiocese's Lay Review Panel on Abuse said Rigali and his bishops "failed miserably" at being open when dealing with accused priests.

The Vatican says the 76 year old Rigali retired because of his age.

In a release from the Knoxville Diocese, Bishop Stika said Rigali will be living with him, and he is looking forward to moving to the south.

"I have enjoyed the gracious hospitality of the people of Tennessee on several occasions when I have visited," Rigali
said. "I look forward to making my home in the Diocese of Knoxville."

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will provide for all of Cardinal Rigali's expenses as part of his retirement.

"We used to chat about the possibility of the Cardinal's living with me when he retired," Bishop Stika said, "but I thought it would be in a rectory where I was serving as a parish
priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, not in the bishop's residence in East Tennessee."

Knoxville will be Cardinal Rigali's principal home, but he will continue to travel twice a month to Rome, where he serves on the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops.

As a welcoming gift for the Cardinal, Bishop Stika said he intends to present him with a Vols ball cap.

"By the end of the Cardinal's first week here, I hope to have taught him all the words to 'Rocky Top,'" said Bishop Stika.

According to the release, Cardinal Rigali's service to the Church began in 1961 with his ordination to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Later the same year he began his
graduate studies in canon law in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, completing his doctorate in June 1964. In November of that year he entered the English-language section of the Vatican's Secretariat of State, becoming its director in 1970.

In his various roles with the Vatican, Cardinal Rigali has served three popes, beginning with Pope Paul VI (through 1978), Blessed Pope John Paul II (1978 through 2005), and Pope Benedict XVI (2005 to the present).

In 1985 he was ordained a bishop by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

From 1985 to 1990, in addition to serving as president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, he held a number of
positions at the Vatican, serving the Secretariat of State, the Council for Public Affairs of the Church, the Congregation for Bishops, and the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

In 1990 he became secretary of the College of Cardinals.

In 1994 Blessed John Paul II appointed him archbishop of St. Louis, where he served until being named archbishop of Philadelphia in July 2003. In October that year he was made a Cardinal by Blessed John Paul II.

In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI appointed the Cardinal as a member of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops. He is a member of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline
of the Sacraments, the U.S. bishops' committees on Divine Worship and Pro-Life Activities, and Vox Clara, which advises the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline
of the Sacraments on English translations.

The Cardinal is chairman of the ad hoc subcommittee on Aid to the Catholic Church in Central and Eastern Europe and president of the board of directors of the Black and Indian Mission Office. He also serves on the board of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, will be installed as Philadelphia's new shepherd on Sept. 8. He had been archbishop of Denver since 1997.

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