A deep look into Philly’s clerical culture

National Catholic Reporter

by Tom Roberts on Feb. 28, 2012 NCR Today

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, with its roots deep in the soil of a secretive, authoritarian, Irish Catholicism, produced a tightly wound clerical culture unparalleled in this country for its loyalty to itself.

When it comes to clericalism, with its unwritten but clearly understood code of the bishop as prince with the power to bend the culture to his will through the distribution of benefices and punishments, with the means to exact unfailing loyalty, “Philly” was always in a league of its own.

The culture is unraveling there, and has been since District Attorney Lynne Abraham decided in 2003 to impanel a grand jury, even though the statutes of limitation would probably prevent her from bringing charges, to look into the matter of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests.

The resultant history is well known – an unprecedented documentation of inner church workings, of unimaginable crimes against children, of cover up and shuffling of abusive priests from parish to parish with no warning to the affected congregations.

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