What Is Your Question for Cardinal Rigali?

We are collecting question suggestions to forward to Cardinal Rigali. We can’t promise answers, but we can promise to send the chosen questions by certified mail to his offices at the Archdiocese. We will share the final list in a future post.

31 thoughts on “What Is Your Question for Cardinal Rigali?

  1. Dear Cardinal Rigali,

    In the interest of transparency, fairness, justice, don’t you think you should step down? There will be no trust among the faithful or the public until a new administration takes charge. You would be setting an example for the Vatican.

    Such a move would not imply guilt or complicity – just a new start.

    S. Reid Warren, III

    1. rigali will only be here for another year then he will get to set an example for the vatican when he is reassigned to a cushy job title.mabye he can work with the other guy,levada.

      i know this sounds slanted or biased but you couldnt make this stuff up!!

    2. Susan, Thank you for creating a site that allows us to respectfully share our concerns, questions, and desires. I am very proud to be a Catholic, I love my faith, it is part of who I am. I identify myself as Irish Catholic, I am grateful to the Archdioceses of Philadelphia for my education, but am extremely disappointed in their lack of concern for children and for their parishioners in general. I too believe we need reform within our religion. I am appalled at the behavior of our priests, I am also so very upset that our church turns a blind eye to sexual abuse, but can not turn a blind eye to divorce and remarriage.
      I recently inquired about an annulment. I would like to receive an annulment so that I can receive the sacraments, I have been married to my second husband for 17 years, I am not applying for an annulment for the purpose of having a big wedding in a church.
      I was told by the office of the Tribunal that I could only get an annulment if my husband who happens to be Jewish also applied for an annulment for his first marriage that took place under Jewish rite. I asked why someone who is of the Jewish faith would care or why they would need an annulment from the Catholic Church especially since they would not be getting married in the Catholic Church? an Annulment from the Catholic Church, is meaningless to someone of the Jewish faith. I was told that Tribunal has the responsibility of determining through investigation whether or not my husband’s first marriage was valid. I kept telling Mr. R. that we had no desire to be married in the Catholic Church, I kept explaining that the only reason for my seeking an annulment was to receive communion and to be buried by catholic rite. He would not budge, so I said do you realize that the priests who have recently accused of sexual abuse can go to confession, confess the horrible things that they have done and can receive communion? He said yes? I then asked why is my divorce and remarriage a greater sin than the sin of abusing a child? He told how sorry he was that I was hurt by the abuse of these priest, but told me that no matter what I and my Jewish husband both had to apply for a annulment. It is the responsibility of the tribunal to investigate to make the determination if our marriages were invalid, without an Annulment we were living a life of infidelity!
      I would like to ask Cardinal Rigali, Why a man who has abused a child with his consecrated hands can be forgiven in confession and why a Catholic who has been divorced and remarried cannot?
      I would also like to ask Cardinal Rigali why a Jewish man should go through a procedure that has no meaning to him?
      I would also like him to tell me why our church is above the law?
      Why are we sending away catholics whose only so called crime is divorce and protecting members of the clergy who have caused great harm to many of our children and their families?

      If I could get the annulment without my husband having too as well I would apply today. My husband would go through the process if I asked but I will not ask because in all of the years we have been married he has never asked me to follow Jewish law. If I merely wanted to have my marriage blessed or if I wanted a big wedding I would simply go to my husband’s rabbi, who would be happy to do so and who also would be very happy to preside at my funeral when the time comes. I just want to receive communion, and to be buried out of my church.
      Our church needs to look at what is really important, the future of our church, if we continue to lose catholics and their financial support, we will have not church.

    3. Susan, I am so grateful that you are willing to take such steps in this matter. I am a victim of this hideous abuse and I testified before the first grand jury. It was one of the most painful things I ever did, yet one of the most important things I will ever do. No child should have to carry the burden of the horrors that I and so many others have experienced. Thank you so much. Joan

  2. Cardinal Rigali

    Why wont you establish a board for the Archdiocese that a representative from each parish and Catholic education institution sits on along with you?

  3. Since the 2002 United Bishop’s Conference Treaty for the Protection of Children,many Diocese throughout the U.S. have developed additional customized charters of child protection for their individual Diocese. Why does Philadelpia not have any additional child protection charters? Why do we lack “pracical policy” for all the activites and events that children engage? Why does no one from the Archdiocese return my phone calls when I offer to meet and discuss all of the research I have done into other Dioceses and how we can better protect children?

    1. Why does any religious, public, or private institution need a charter, or a set of guidelines on how to deal with people who abuse children????

      All you need is a telephone – to call the cops!

      If Bob Jones down the road was abusing a kid, and people knew about it, it would be a no-brainer. You’d call the cops and hopefully have his evil ass locked up forever. But when it’s a Catholic priest… “oh no… we can’t send Father Pervert to the penitentiary.”

      That is a line of garbage you Catholics have to start working out if you truly wish to protect children and vulnerable adults.

      1. Agreed Rich. The policy I am referring to is not about clergy sex abuse,it has to do with the important areas of prevention and protection of children. Every organization has policy which is to be followed in dealing with children and all the various activities and events they participate.This can be anything from child chaperone ratios to off site and overnight events.
        The areas of prevention are important so that children are better protected in any area,coaches,volunteers,clergy etc..If there are no policies in place then things continue to go unchecked. The better children are protected,the less danger they will be in. Believe me,I just spent the past 6 months battling at times with the Archdiocese to improve their child protection policies.I was able to have some policy enacted that will better protect children in Archdiocesan programs.Prevention is important and can’t be ignored.I don’t want kids put in any risky situations,if we can reduce some of the risks,the kids are safer. Is it the only solution? of course not.And when something horrible or criminal happens to a child,I agree,you call the POLICE.

      2. Rich, We must rely on the employees and members of institutions (such as the Church) to be informed on preventing abuse from happening in the first place. That’s what these charters address.

  4. ‘rigali’ where do you get the money to pay for the lobbying group ‘catholic conference of bishops’ which you head in Harrisburg, (is that taxable) that opposes legislation that would provide Justice for the VICTIMS ?

  5. I ask Cardinal Justin Rigali to secure a written response to the enclosed correspondence that has been unanswered for over 5 years:

    January 1, 2006

    Mr. William Sasso
    Board of Trustees
    LaSalle University
    1900 W. Olney Ave.
    Philadelphia, PA

    Mr. William Sasso
    Stradley and Ronon
    Philadelphia Office
    2600 One Commerce Square
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Re: Legal Representation-Archdiocese of Philadelphia
    Pedophilia/Sexual Abuse – Grand Jury Report

    Dear Mr. Sasso:

    As counsel to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia during the grand jury proceedings, I am deeply saddened by all of the evidence, documents, statements, etc. that have been made public in the grand jury report regarding sexual abuse by various diocesan priests. In addition, I also call your attention to this paragraph on your website:

    “Attesting to Stradley Ronon’s strength in this area, we have long served as general counsel to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

    I find this particularly disturbing that you and other members of your law firm have provided legal representation and advice to the executives in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over the many years of these documented claims of sexual abuse and pedophilia.
    I have always said that those in positions of the greatest authority (Krol, Bevilacqua) hold the greatest responsibility (and guilt) since each of our local church leaders have a responsibility to the Catholics in all of the many parishes throughout the region.
    The priest offenders have committed such atrocious and unspeakable acts and it was the Cardinal’s responsibility to do what was right to protect and safeguard the youngest of our Catholic parishioners. This is truly sad and evil that they would seek to safeguard their reputation and that of the archdiocese at the expense of the innocence of our young elementary and high school Catholic students.
    But, of course, I am a Philadelphian since birth and we know the hypocrisy, deceit and obfuscation goes far beyond the offices of 222 N. 17th St. and the castle on Cardinal Ave. The cover-up over the years involved a great number of individuals in positions of power and influence and certainly involved those in the legal profession.
    Mr. Sasso, I retired as a Philadelphia Police Captain a number of years ago and anyone who has lived and/or worked in this city for any length of time knows that corruption of this magnitude (as evidence in the sex abuse scandal) needs the assistance of the legal profession in order to cover (and seal) the tracks of such pedophilia.
    Were you counsel to the former Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua during their tenure as Archbishops of Philadelphia? If you were not, which law firms worked for the Archdiocese in advising them in their course of action as the stream of sexual allegations poured into the Archdiocesan offices? What is the moral, ethical and professional responsibility of the Archdiocesan attorneys when they have direct, first-hand knowledge of evidence of criminal conduct being committed by individuals in the parishes and high schools? Do Archdiocesan attorneys have a responsibility under the Disciplinary Code of Conduct to report such criminal activity to the local law enforcement authorities? Did, in fact, any of the attorneys working for the Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua do so? As a civil attorney, did Cardinal Bevilacqua have a professional responsibility to report such criminal conduct and behavior?
    Wouldn’t it be nice for the victims of such life and spirit destroying sexual abuse to ask the Archdiocesan lawyers the following: “What did you know? and When did you know it?”. Mr. Sasso, would you please answer that question yourself for the Catholic parishioners throughout the Delaware Valley?
    As evidenced by my e-mail address, I am an exceedingly persistent and outspoken advocate when it comes to issues of injustice, deceit, corruption and abuse of power. I will continue to take this message to any person or organization that will receive my correspondence. I thank God everyday for the advances in communication technology that have made dissemination of such information very efficient and effective.
    I am hopeful, though not at all confident, that you will, in the minimum, have the courtesy to provide a reasonable response to this correspondence. In the absence of such a reply, I will initiate my advocacy in order to address the conduct and decision-making of the legal representatives of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over such a long period when multiple reports/allegations of sexual abuse were brought to the attention of the religious leaders (and their legal counsel) of the Catholic Archdiocese.
    I noticed on your law firm’s website that you attended LaSalle University and come from the tradition of the Christian Brothers. On the other hand, I attended St. Joseph’s University and have the benefit of the Jesuit education. I know that you can appreciate that the Jesuit principles encourage one to be more outspoken and strident when the issues involve those of social injustice. As a matter of fact, the Jesuit motto of “…man for others…” is really quite appropriate here when it comes to the conduct and decision-making of the Church leaders and their counsel over the many years of this scandal.
    I thank you for taking the time to review this correspondence and look forward to a response at your earliest convenience. Hopefully, a response from your firm will make it unnecessary to take my concerns to the Board of Directors of the Holy Redeemer Health System. This family has for a long time been intimately involved with the services of this religious service provider and I want to ensure that the leaders of the Holy Redeemer Health System are aware of the concerns presented in this letter.


    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Philadelphia, PA 19111

    (Note: Currently, Mr. Sasso serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Holy Redeemer Health System in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. The mission and philosophy of this health delivery system is based on the tradition of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer whose vision statement in part states: “…In faithful dedication to our call, we share the values of prayerfulness, healing presence and redemptive suffering which enable us to reach out to one another and to God’s people…”)

  6. Why is every parish in the Archdiocese not holding meetings with their parishoners regarding the horrendous events of the past few weeks. I know you may not think we deserve answers ,we do deserve to be HEARD!Will you instruct pastors to hold meetings?

    1. Pastors are either afraid for their livelyhood or they are ordered by Rigali or some other Philadelphia bishop under Obedience not to do anything embarrassing to Rigali. At ordination, they take the Vow of Obedience. If the first thought is valid, then perhaps they are concerned for their “jobs” as priests and their pensions, meager as they are rather than the needs of their flock, as Jesus would be.
      If the second suggestion is true, then priests need to be reminded if a spiritual order is immoral, then this immoral command, in conscience, must not be obeyed.

      To add a third consideration: In the Inquirer, Tuesday, February 22, 2011 under Barrie Maguire’s drawings of three priests covering their ears, eyes, and mouth esteemed Rev. John P. McNamee, poet and pastor emeritus of St. Malachy Church in North Philadelphia, addressed this point of Philadelphia’s priests silence on the issue of child sexual abuse–“And our Council of Priests is completely subordinate to local church authorities. What began in our seminary days as clerical obedience has become a fearful, mute submissiveness.”

      Who can admire and follow pastors and their assistants (about 400 priests) who are submissive, docile and obedient to an errand leader? How can we respect such people called priests?

  7. When will the Archdiocese truly embrace the victims and this cause, just as we as a church embrace others in need of support and change, instead of relegating victims and those who speak for change to standing (literally) outside the churches–by doing the following:
    1. Mandate that all parishes create an advocacy board (made up of lay volunteers and/or concerned clergy) that has access to communication channels such as bulletins or websites to announce special events or place meeting notices, etc.

    2. Welcome groups, such Catholics4change, SNAP and Voices of the Faithful into the church, much in the same vein that the Right to Life movement has access to parishioners, allowing information to be available in the vestibules, or special tables set-up on certain weekends, proving that the church really does stand behind the commitment to protecting our children and correcting the wrongs already committed.

    3. Establish a special collection for victim support groups, such as SNAP, just as we do for other needy causes, making it clear to parishioners that all money collected goes directly to the charities.

    4. Mandate all parishes hold healing services/meetings to allow parishioners to be heard and to heal?

  8. I support the above comments of S. Reid Warren,III, as well as Michael Skiendzielewski. While I totally support hearing others’ questions to Rigali via Catholics4Change, I am recalling the RAGE and ANGER of Jesus at the moneychangers in the temple. Of course it was a different time, and He was, of course, Jesus. But, enough with the questions to Rigali, unless we all ask him to step down. No more Kumbaya moments here, and yes, there is a need to share with others, but, TALK IS CHEAP!


  10. Though I fully expect no answer from you Cardinal Rigali, if you actually did decide some day to have REAL communication with your people, I would like you to answer these questions. I would like to know why there has not been a forum set up in each parish in which all of the parishioners are formally APOLOGIZED to for these crimes to our precious children over so many years and for the shameful cover-up. Also, at these forums, the laity would have the opportunity to ask questions, rather than sitting silently in the pews while information is spewed out at them. Why, if you are so concerned with healing,as you say, are you not taking these necessary steps to help us heal? Where’s the sincerity, Cardinal Rigali?

  11. What responsibility do the American bishops assume for the exit of so many catholics from the fold? Do they ever
    look at the plank in their own eye as they so readily discount, critcize and marginalize “cafeteria” catholics who dare honestly questioin their actions and mandates? Why are they afraid of really dialoguing with the faithful-not as superiors but as brothers seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance for His church?

  12. On a recent Sunday, myself and a few other people set up shop outside of St. Timothy’s Church in Northeast Philly, where Fr. Thomas Rooney was one of the twenty-one priests recently removed from active ministry for credible allegations of abuse. We stood on the pavement beneath the stairs of the church in an effort to warn parishioners and the neighborhood of a known suspected pedophile priest.

    After Mass, Father Patrick McCormick came through the doors of the church and walked down the steps, looking like an Irish punk, after his 12-pack of beer. Father McCormick pointed in my direction and asked, “What are you doing in front of my church?” I said, “We are here to protect children. Father Thomas Rooney was recently placed on administrative leave for allegations of abusing minors. We are here to protect children!” With that answer, Father Patrick McCormick pointed at me and told me, “You just shut up!” Being that it is that I can’t stand being told what to do, especially by a man who wears the same type of clothes as a priest who abused me wore, I went nuts. I started screaming at him about my being silent for 20 years, and I’m going to use my voice and hope to overpower his. He claimed, while parishioners were still milling around the area of the church, in a loud voice “Father Rooney has been exonerated from any wrongdoing, as have the other 20 priests.” This is entirely untrue, and when I called Fr. McCormick a liar, he came down off the church steps, onto the pavement, and bumped me chest-to-chest. He pointed directly at me and said, “You need to forgive!” Well, not true again. I said, “You should be down on your *bleeping* hands and *bleeping* knees begging for my forgiveness.”

    I could’ve filed assault charges against Father Patrick McCormick for bumping me. I could’ve filed charges for his threatening me. Instead, after the heated exchange, I walked away and I went home. For so long now, I have been fighting this issue of sexual abuse inside and outside of the walls of the Catholic Church. The next morning, I sat in front of my computer and cried for a ½-hour. Everything had just gotten to me, and the more I thought of how Father McCormick and other Catholic parishioners treated me the day before, the more I thought about the abuse I suffered as a child, by another “man of God.” I thought about everything that I’ve been called in the last 2 years, for trying to protect children and to seek justice for victims. It was a load to bear.

    My question to Cardinal Rigali, “Is this how you beg for forgiveness?”

    1. Rich
      I am devastated reading of your experience. I read once where a victim of clergy abuse was told “the abuser murdered your soul and the Church broke your heart.”

      Even if this priest actually believed what he was saying about his fellow priests being innocent,why is a man handing out leaflets to protect children so threatening?
      I just don’t know how we have gone so far from what Jesus intended the Church to be.This is how we treat people in pain?This is how we seek healing and forgiveness? By continuing to treat those among us so badly? This is not the religion that I was taught and believed.
      God Bless you Rich for trying your best to protect the children and seek justice for the victims.There are many of us now trying to do the same,don’t feel that you need to be on the “front” lines and experience such pain at the hands of others.Please take time for yourself.Please know you are not alone in this fight and when the load is too great to bear,we will carry it.

      1. Thanks, Kathy, but I won’t stop. I won’t stop until the Church starts to listen and do the right thing.

        I’ve heard good people say that what the Catholic Church is doing now is “too little, too late.” I don’t believe that. I think what the Church is doing, past and present, is very little, but I don’t think it’s ever too late to do the right thing. I definitely don’t want to be protesting outside of the Cathedral in Philly, or the Archdiocese Headquarters 20 years from now, wishing we had done more 20 years before.

        I don’t believe in God. I am agnostic, and that’s coming from a man who is the newphew of former NY Cardinal John J. O’Connor. I hate the Catholic Church and everything it stands for. I hate that the Catholic Church looks at a priest having sex with an adult man or woman no different than a priest who rapes a 10 year-old boy, because it’s all considered sin. That is rhetoric nonsense!

        I will continue to voice my opinions, my advice, and my concerns on the frontlines of any religious or private institution that thinks they can rape little boys and girls and get away with it. Not on my watch!

    2. Dear Rich, I am so very sorry for the pain you have and are suffering. This is the 2nd time I’ve sat down and cried reading about priests and sexual abuse. The first time was “Billy”, the 2 priests, and the diocesan teacher. I too have been in front of several parishes passing out leaflets regarding children and sexual abuse. Some parishioners QUIETLY offer support ( “keep up the good work “) while others loudly called us “Devils” How I wish other parishioners had come to your defense during McCormick’s confrontation. Would the cowardly priest have confronted you if reporters were there and TV cameras were rolling? Guilty priests deserve no respect…on the streets this person would now be in jail and not in a new neighborhood or in Rome.

  13. How do you plan to make diocese schools more transparent? What role do you see parents playing in the process? I recommend a board of parents – separate from the Home and School Association-from each school acting in an consultative capacity regarding complaints regarding faculty and other issues.

  14. What is your plan for restoring confidence in the clergy throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, knowing the anger, pain and frustration of the laity?

  15. Ask him: When will you truly make this whole thing transparent? When will you ask those involved in years of coverup to resign? When will you tell the guilty parties who are living free in a Catholic nursing home, like Villa St. Joseph, to get out and make their own way, not on our dime? When will you tell the unvarnished truth? When will you stop protecting priests and instead, protect children? When will you reveal where Bevilacqua is hiding, and give some proof if he is truly ill and demented? When will you do or say something that will make those of us who have turned our backs on the church in disgust, turn around and come back?

    Take your pick, Susan. God bless you.

  16. Cardinal Rigali:

    What is the reason(s) for the unexpected termination, dismissal or removal of the two assistant principals at John Paul II High School yesterday? The two assistant principals were Domenic Zampogna and Kevin Waters and both were appointed about a year ago to their positions. There was a letter from Ms. Rochford at the Archdiocese announcing the removal of these two professionals and no further details were provided.

    Cardinal Rigali, what happened to cause the Archdiocesan leadership to decide to remove Mr. Zampogna and Mr. Waters?

  17. In the interest of transparency, who did you know and what did you do to secure the Philadelphia red hat? You were one of a handful of cardinals who attended cardinal Laws mass during the week of pope B.’s election.
    In the future I would like that there be an election of all pastors and bishops. If the faithful approves, I would like there to be an election of a cardinal. What do you think of that?
    I have children, Catholic educated for 16 years, who will not have their children baptized in our church because of what you have allowed to go on. What do you think of that?
    Other than tradition, is there any reason a woman cannot be ordained in the Catholic Church? Please don’t tell me about Jesus at the Last Supper and all the men he had as followers,ergo, all priests must be men.

  18. Question 1: Cardinal Regali, since you have not only countenanced continued abuse of minors (moral failing 1), but have accomodated it with weak investigations (moral failing 2), and since you have made efforts to avoid providing relief to those abused (moral failing 3), and reassigned these alleged abusers to work with other children (moral failing 4), how do you believe that you can speak to with authority on matters of morals? Since your Canonical responsibility requires you to speak authoritatively on matters of faith and morals, how do you believe you perform your job?

    Question 2: Would you hire a school teacher from the public school system with a record of beign accused and exhonorated for molesting a child?

    Question 3: Would you continue to see a physician who was accused and acquitted of molesting a patient?

    Question 4: If you answered yes to questions 2 or 3, then why is the standard higher for teachers and physicians than it is for priests since they only are there to serve our minds and bodies and not our eternal souls?

    Question 5: The majority leader of the New Hampshire state senate called the Bishop of Manchester a pimp. Would you take offense if that term was applied to you and how would you rebut it in light of the grand jury record?

    Question 6: If you would be offended at being called a pimp and could not disperse the stigma attached to the term, do you believe you should give way to a new leader who could shepherd this flock more effectively?

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