Archdiocese Defrocks Former Local Priest

By Karin Williams
The Mercury [Pennsylvania]
June 23, 2006

Philadelphia -- The Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirmed Thursday that a Catholic priest who served several area churches for decades has been defrocked in response to "a credible accusation of sexual misconduct involving a minor."

Father Craig R. Brugger has been "removed from the clerical state" after the request from the Archdiocese was approved by the Vatican, according to Donna M. Farrell, the Archdiocese's director of communications.

The Archdiocese made the official announcement about Brugger, 59, in its publication, The Catholic Standard and Times, and in a press release issued Thursday.

Brugger, who was ordained in 1973, was alleged to have abused a 15-year-old boy while he was the pastor of St. Ann's Church in Phoenixville. He left St. Ann's in 1976.

In 1989, while he was the principal of St. James Catholic High School for Boys, he was allegedly found to be in possession of pornography. He was allowed to stay on at the school contingent on seeking counseling.

Brugger simultaneously served at six different pa-rishes in Aston, Phila-delphia, South Coventry, Me-dia, Walling-ford and Chester, all of which had parochial schools.

After leaving St. James in 1993, he became the principal of Bishop McDevitt High School for one year, then the president of Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic School, Norristown, where he served until 1996. In 1996, he was assigned to St. Helena in Philadelphia.

In 2002, when a report about alleged molestation was filed with the Archdiocese and the priest abuse scandal broke, Brugger was placed on leave. In 2004, an Archdiocesan review board found the report to be credible, and Brugger was removed from active ministry awaiting action by the Vatican in Rome

Removal from the clerical state means that Brugger is no longer able to function as a priest anywhere, Farrell said.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia encourages anyone who wishes to make a report of sexual abuse of a minor to contact its Victim Assistance Program at 1-888-800-8780.


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