Monsters in Clerical Collars
Yesterday a Philadelphia grand jury, under the direction of District Attorney Lynne Abraham, issued a 418-page report on scores of local priests who preyed on our children and how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia protected those priests. For years.
No horror novel could capture the depravity described in this report.
Here is one graphic example involving the Rev. Francis P. Rogers:
A young boy "described waking up intoxicated in the priest's bed, opening his eyes to see Father Rogers, three other priests, and a seminarian surrounding him. Two of the priests ejaculated on him while Father Rogers masturbated himself. Then Father Rogers sucked on the victim's penis, pinched his nipples, kissed him, and rubbed his stubbly beard all over him. The former altar boy, whom Father Rogers began abusing when he was about 12 years old, remains haunted by memories of the abuse more than 35 years later."
For years, the archdiocese was warned of Rogers' pedophilia. Instead of being punished, Rogers was allowed to remain a priest, and to work with children, for 50 years, his despicable actions hidden by the archdiocese.
Rogers, who died this past February, was not alone. According to their report, the grand jury found evidence that 63 priests in the archdiocese sexually abused hundreds of children. And by abuse, the grand jury did not mean fondling: "We mean rape."
Yet as damning as the report is to these pedophile priests, the grand jury reserved its greatest scorn for Cardinals John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua, who actively shielded the abusive priests.
And what was the archdiocese's response yesterday? Shamefully, it was to continue to deny the undeniable and imply that the report was a smear on the Catholic Church.
In the face of such arrogant denials, why should anyone trust this archdiocese?
Tragically, justice will be elusive. The statute of limitations has passed in many of these cases. But there is hope for the future. As part of his fall agenda, Gov. Rendell has proposed tougher penalties for child rapists.
While Harrisburg lawmakers are considering that issue, they should add another reform. We strongly urge them to follow the recommendations of the grand jury and this page, which has long championed this issue: Eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse.
These monsters in clerical collars should not being roaming free.
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