Springs Men Want Apology for Past Sex Abuse by Priest

By Jean Torkelson
Rocky Mountain News
April 12, 2008

Not every Catholic is rushing out to welcome the pope.

Pope Benedict XVI is widely expected to discuss America's clergy sex-abuse scandal, but it's not soon enough for the Murphy brothers, of Colorado Springs.

The Murphys hope to get a letter to Benedict demanding an apology for past sex abuse by a priest. John Murphy wrote to Pope John Paul II during Denver World Youth Day in 1993, but never got an answer.

"It's never going to go away," said Eddie Murphy, 59, this week. He says the late priest Leonard Abercrombie, a family friend, abused him and his two brothers when they were kids.

This week, Eddie Murphy was named the leader of a newly opened Colorado Springs chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. He says the abuse haunts his life and drove him from the church.

"Now I attend the church of north Cheyenne Canyon - I take a hike every Sunday in the mountains," he said.

The Colorado chapter of Dignity, an activist organization for gay Catholics, hasn't paid any attention to Benedict's upcoming visit, said Shari Miller, 69, who is on the outreach committee.

At recent board meetings, "It was never discussed," she said. "No one I know is going."

Miller added that she isn't hopeful the church's teaching that declares homosexual behavior to be immoral would change soon. "It may take 400 years," she said.

Another group is interested in Benedict - but looking four centuries the other way.

Members of the Society of St. Pius X are traditionalists who believe the Catholic Church erred in demoting the Latin Mass as formulated about 400 years ago.

They will be following Benedict's visit with interest, said Grider Lee, a member of St. Isidore the Farmer parish in Watkins.

That's because Benedict delighted disaffected traditionalists when he announced in 2007 that the Latin Mass would again be encouraged.

"There's a good feeling in our parish about the pope," Lee said. "He's a conservative and took some steps John Paul didn't take - he freed the Latin Mass."

Contact: or 303-954-5055


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