That's 35 long years ago.
One point that Cardinal Justin Rigali certainly did get right last week was when he said: "I know that, for many people, their trust in the church has been shaken."
More accurately, trust in the leaders of the church at the highest levels has been crippled. That is due to their repeatedly turning a blind eye and the cover-ups of criminal acts, including the rapes of young boys. To some extent, their actions are as egregious as the actual abuse of the children by predatory priests.
They have certainly undermined the good work done by the majority of faithful priests. And it has left many Catholics hurt and angry. As a result, some followers have left the church.
It is clear that the archdiocese removed the 21 priests only in response to a Philadelphia grand jury report released last month - the second one within a few years - which found 37 local priests were serving in ministry despite accusations of questionable behavior.
Rigali's initial tortured response attempted to downplay the report's findings: "I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them."
It is obvious now, to Catholics and others alike, that when it comes to the handling of sexual abuse of minors by priests, Rigali and other church leaders for years have been economical with the truth.
The latest step of suspending the 21 priests is welcome, but it comes very late. If anything, it demonstrates the need for legislation that further enables civil lawsuits for past abuse and the prosecution of older crimes.