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  Priest: Church Silenced Abuses
Catholic Pulpit Says 'Highest Authority' Warned Him to Stay Quiet

The Associated Press, carried in Centre Daily Times [Philadelphia PA]
August 8, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- A Roman Catholic priest who reported to a church official in the early 1980s that a fellow priest was molesting boys said he was told that the Philadelphia Archdiocese's "highest authority" warned that he should keep quiet.

The Rev. James Gigliotti told The Philadelphia Inquirer for Sunday's edition that he received a stern warning after he reported the accusations against the Rev. James J. Brzyski.

"This comes from the highest authority: You're to keep your mouth shut," Gigliotti said an assistant chancellor told him.

Gigliotti is the first priest to say publicly that the archdiocese told him to keep quiet.

"I take full responsibility for this, but those words, 'You're to keep your mouth shut,' made a big impression on me because it came from high authority," said Gigliotti, 57, who now leads a parish in Arlington, Texas.

Gigliotti identified the man who warned him as the Rev. John W. Graf, an assistant chancellor under then-Cardinal John Krol.

Graf, who now heads a Chester County parish, told the paper that he did not wish to comment on Gigliotti's account "because of the privacy of all the people involved."

Krol died in 1996.

After the accusations were made against Brzyski, the archdiocese quickly removed him from his parish in the city's Fox Chase section. But church officials did not tell parishioners the reason, nor did they report Brzyski to police.

With his conduct a secret, Brzyski remained a welcome guest in parishioners' homes, and a former altar boy said that meant Brzyski kept abusing him -- for years.

"I was raped by the time I was 13," the then-altar boy, now a father of two who works as a roofer, told the paper. "I don't have any religious beliefs anymore because of what he did to me. I have no faith in anything anymore."

Brzyski, now 54 and living in Chesapeake, Va., did not respond to telephone calls and a letter left by the paper at his home seeking comment.

He is one of more than 50 priests named in a forthcoming grand jury report on sex abuse within the archdiocese, The Inquirer reported.

Citing confidential sources, the paper reported Wednesday that prosecutors have concluded that the statute of limitations bars criminal charges against Brzyski and others. The report is expected to be made public next month.

Brzyski's run of alleged attacks took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Ten men have said he assaulted them as boys during his six years of active service as a priest. That would make him one of the worst known offenders in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Three of his accusers have told The Inquirer that Brzyski plied them with candy, ice cream or alcohol before assaulting them -- in their homes, in rectories, in his car, in a house at the New Jersey shore. Two allege that he molested them in the sacristy, the room near the altar where priests don their vestments.

Even so, the church did not identify him publicly as an abuser until this year, in a brief notice published June 23. It said only that Brzyski and six other priests had been defrocked for "misconduct involving minors."

 
 

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