Long before his death Tuesday night, even an ailing Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua must have foreseen that one harsh epitaph for him already had been carved in stone.
The words were composed in 2005 by a Philadelphia grand jury investigating the sex-abuse scandal that exposed five dozen alleged predator priests – many of them active during Bevilacqua’s 15-year stewardship of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Archdiocesan officials, including Bevilacqua and his predecessor, Cardinal John Krol, stood by and then covered up hundreds of child-sexual assaults by priests, the jury alleged.
While lamenting that statutes had lapsed for the crimes, the panel said church officials’ actions in remaining silent while accused priests were shuttled around to unsuspecting parishes was “as immoral as the abuse itself” and that there was no doubt the cardinals “were personally informed of almost all of the allegations . . . and personally decided or approved” a cover-up.
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