Accused Priest Is a Cleric No More

By Gloria Campisi
Philadelphia Daily News
June 23, 2006

A priest who once ran two archdiocesan high schools has been removed from the priesthood by the Vatican in the wake of the Catholic church sex-abuse scandal.

The archdiocse announced yesterday that the Vatican had granted the request of Craig Brugger, whose last post was as pastor of St. Helena's in Olney, to leave the priesthood.

Brugger was one of 63 priests that a city grand jury last year said had abused hundreds of children going back decades.

None could be prosecuted because the statute of limitations on the crimes had expired, the grand jury said. It recommended changes in the statute, a state law, to permit victims to press charges after reaching adulthood.

It also suggested that a one- year window be provided during which sex-abuse victims can file civil suits against the church even in old cases.

Brugger, 59, was ordained in 1973 and allegedly abused a teenage boy in 1974.

His first served as assistant pastor of St. Ann's Church in Phoenixville, and joined the faculty of St. James Catholic High School for Boys in Chester, in 1976. He became principal in 1985, according to the archdiocesan Web site.

St. James closed in 1993 and Brugger became principal, for a year, at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote.

He was reassigned in 1994 to Kennedy-Kernrick High School in Norristown, where he was president until 1996.

Brugger was pastor at St. Helena's until March 2002, when he was removed from active ministry after his alleged victim reported to archdiocesan officials that Brugger had sexually abused him 28 years earlier.

John Salveson of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, still criticized the archdiocese, saying that it was fighting the reforms urged by the grand jury and that it believes the furor over the scandal is "a thunderstorm that they just sort of have to wait for it to blow through."

E-mail at, 215-854-5935


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.