Priest, Nun Join Catholic Protestors

My Fox Philly
April 1, 2011

[with video]

PHILADELPHIA - Dozens of protestors marched outside the offices of Cardinal Justin Rigali on Friday demanding the Catholic Church do more to protect children from abuse.

The noon rally attracted several different groups who support survivors of sexual abuse by priests. They were joined today by a priest and a nun.

Fox 29's Dave Schratwieser reported from outside the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul that in the weeks since that second grand jury report on abuse and cover-ups these groups have gotten quite a bit larger.

The protests seem to be gaining momentum and getting more and more organized as the number of suspended and criminally charged priests grows.

Protestors from "Catholics 4 Change" and "Voice of the Faithful" crowded the sidewalks outside the headquarters of the Archdiocese at noon demanding an end to what they say is a cover-up of sex abuse by priests.

"Children must be protected as soon as possible," said Susan Matthews, founder of "Catholics 4 Change."

Buddy Schmidt from Northeast Philadelphia walked the line, focusing his attention on Rigali and his handling of the latest priest-abuse scandal.

"The cardinal is the one concealing the criminal priests, the pedophiles, so he is the guilty party here. He is the one who has to step forward. Actually, he needs to step down."

Others called on state lawmakers to pass new laws to protect children from abuse and predator priests.

"One is to abolish the statute of limitation for sexual abuse, for future criminal and civil suits," said one woman wearing a billboard sign with the numbers of the bills in the state legislature.

Many protestors carried pictures of children , insisting it's time for Catholics to ban together and force church leaders to protect children first, not the clergy and the church's image.

"I am horrified and humiliated to see what our church has not done, how they have covered this up for so many years," Fr. Michael Lipareli said.

"We should not put up with this cover-up, which is continuing to this very day," said Sister Maureen, another protestor.

Schmidt also said the church will lose his support on Sunday, saying, "I can't continue putting money in the basket anymore and support this."

Protestors said they will continue to pressure state lawmakers to expand the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of children both on the criminal and the civil side. They will continue to be heard and will not go away.

Both the reverend and nun at Friday's protest said they would like to see members of the clergy. They said there are lots of good members of the clergy who are being painted with a broad brush, and they'd like to see more of them join in the protests and express their opinions publicly, Schratwieser reported.


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