Editorial: Philadelphia was a shallow victory

National Catholic Reporter

[Star witness’ story in Philadelphia sex abuse trials doesn’t add up]

by NCR Editorial Staff | Apr. 30, 2013


Two Philadelphia cardinals in succession, John Krol (head of the archdiocese from 1961 to 1988) and Anthony Bevilacqua (1988-2003), for decades knowingly protected priests who had sexually abused children, sometimes savagely, hiding their actions from civil authorities and from the Catholic community they were supposed to serve.

We are certain of those assertions because a grand jury in Philadelphia managed to subpoena thousands of pages of documentation and to accumulate hundreds of hours of testimony before issuing, in 2005, a stunning report detailing years of sexual abuse of children by priests and cover-up of the abuse by cardinal archbishops.

It was discovered in 2011 that a third cardinal, Justin Rigali, since retired, had essentially disregarded provisions of the bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, ignoring credible claims of abuse against more than a dozen priests and bypassing the archdiocesan review board.

The cardinals were abetted in hiding the crimes by an insider group of clerics that included Msgr. William Lynn, as well as Edward Cullen, who went on to become bishop of Allentown, Pa., and Joseph Cistone, currently bishop of Saginaw, Mich.

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