‘A Watershed Moment In the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis’

Please click the link to read Cardinal Bevilacqua’s testimony for the 2005 Grand Jury Report. Let’s add this to the required summer reading for Catholics. The judge in the current criminal case involving Msgr. Lynn sealed the records, but the Inquirer already had this copy in the public domain. BishopAccountability.org has broken it down into searchable pdf files. Click link below.

Cardinal Bevilacqua’s testimony plays twister with the truth. He says “I don’t recall” and “I’d like to discuss this with my legal counsel” more times than I can count. His testimony is rife with contradictions and sickening statements. He and his bishops share a legacy of complete moral failure. My devastation with the “Church” deepens. Cardinal Rigali’s refusal to undo these wrongs solidifies that “they just don’t get it.”

“Cardinal Bevilacqua’s Grand Jury Testimony Posted Online,” by Nancy Phillips and Craig R. McCoy, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 29, 2011

35 thoughts on “‘A Watershed Moment In the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis’

  1. I’m almost all the way through the testimony. Wow. The “liar-liar-pants-on-fire crew are not fairing well in print.

    Let the public read how the Archbishop twisted things around.

    As I read the testimony I was befuddled…how could he not recall…and then admit there may have been an instance or two of situations with a priest, but he couldn’t recall, but THEN when asked about the responsibility of placing a priest in ministry after allegations, he said he had final approval on ALL of them EVERY time and by followng the recommendation of the Secretary of the Clergy based on the medical recommendations of the doctor. What? All TWO that you may not recall? Sure. What judge sealed this and why? One of two things: spineless, or paid off.

  2. My previous post was supposed to be under the Testimony one.

    The fact that the Inquirer printed it after legally obtaining it…that’s freedom of the press.

  3. I read the first day’s deposition.
    Cardinal’s description of his J.o.b. :
    *Take the place of Christ
    *Teach the faith
    *Sanctify the people
    *Govern the people

    He then went on to relate that he:
    Turned over the DECISION on whether to inform [warn] people in the parish of the past presence [or future presence] of credibly found sexual abusers of children TO THE MEDICAL PEOPLE.

    Use of capitals because no other form of my emphasis available.

    1. And in some cases where the medical professionals warned against having the priest in minstry with children,the priests were given asignments at parishes that had schools. In one case the medical professionals said a certain priest should never be in a postion of working with children such as being a teacher or in charge of youth events. In the letter he was sent informing him of his new assignment at a parish ,the letter instructed him of his many dutes including “educating the youth”. Bevilaqua then explains that is just a form letter sent to all priests with new assignments. Also some of the accused priests were advised to not be near the youth at parishes -as if simply telling someone to stay away from children is any type of safeguard. And many of the fellow clergy who were now put in charge of these priests had no idea of their past history with children.

  4. “his Eminence”… “Take the place of Christ”…


  5. At one point in the testimony Bevilaqua is asked if the parents at a parish where an abusive priest was assigned should have had the right to know of the priest’s history. Bevilaqua evades this question by answering something to the effect that he is not a parent so he wouldn’t be able to answer that. I know many people who are not parents who realize that basic decency involves protecting children. You do not need to be a parent to realize this. Bevilaqua also answers a similiar question by saying he had no legal or moral obligation to inform parents of an abusive priest’s history. Later he slightly backtracks on that answer. Really no moral obilgation?

  6. First: A BIG thank you to the Inquirer for making this available to us.

    So, if, by his own admission, the Cardinal doesn’t know the parishes, or the priests or anything about any of the ongoing abuse, and he doesn’t read the Boston Globe or the NYT, or any books on the crisis in the Church what does he do all day?

    Oh, wait. I think we have an answer:

    Kudos to the juror who asked if he would be as forgiving if the financial records were as sloppy as the clery records. Ah, it’s all about the money. Still.

    AND: “I take the place of Christ.” Really. Really? But no, there’s no clericism in Philadelphia. Nope.

    1. So powerful Charles! I trust your final sentence is saying that the claim “take the place of Christ” IS clericalism.

      I would add- As present and former Catholics know, it is certainly Roman doctrine that all ordained priests “represent Christ.” In the case of the pope, he is the “vicar of Christ on earth.”

      This is a vast difference from the scriptural “ambassadors of Christ.”

  7. Gerald, while ordained priests may “represent” Christ here on earth, the Cardinal’s statement that he “takes the place of Christ” is news to me. I think that statement goes well beyond the pale, shows an arrogance of pride and is, indeed, the very definition of clericism.

    But let’s be nice to the Cardinal. Let’s assume he is telling the truth about everything … THIS is the caliber of person who led the Archdiocese?

    Quote of the day: “Answer: What does that mean ‘pursue sexually’?”

    1. Charles wrote in part: “But let’s be nice to the Cardinal.”
      Your point is well taken Charles.
      People have “been nice ” to Cardinal B. practically all his life, I assume. Maybe it’s time for him and a lot of other clerics to live like most of us have to?

  8. I keep going back to conversations where many in my parish insisted on blaming the biased/Catholic hating media (for current scandle). I think all the damning evidence here was done by Bevilaqua himself. He needed no help.

    1. Dierdre, it is a strange but true fact in this life that Catholicism does have its detractors and its critics; however, we must differentiate the kinds of criticism Rome receives.
      On one hand, Christians who believe in the revelation they have received of Christ in the bible criticize the lies and twisted scripture Rome has used for centuries to get obedient followers/supporters. [$$$]
      Then,on the other hand are those— atheists, liberals, agnostics,criminals, God haters, Gay Pride-homosexuals, feminists,you name it— who bash Rome because ,though Rome is not truly Christian, it is a handy target for their animosity.

  9. Yes, people probably have “been nice” to the Cardinal his entire life. Father, Monsignor, Your Grace, Your Eminence, Your Excellency … the Church engenders this behavior. Bowing and scraping and kissing the ring of our “superiors”…those “entrusted with our souls”.

    Conservative writer George Weigel (ugh) wrote an article in the National Review (ugh) that the NYTimes reprinted on Sunday. It it he blames the folks in the pews who concentrate only on “abuseabuseabuse” [sic] instead of turning the page for what is “sure to be a new Golden Age of Evangelical Catholicism.” Dolan in NY (and current head of the USCB) is barking that we must “move on”.

    They don’t get it. And I think that the way the institution is set up, they never will. The USCB is useless. It’s a boys club in love with itself and parliamentary procedure, plenary sessions, committees, ad hoc committees and above all, clericism. It took them 3 years to develop a procedure? How’s this for a procedure: 1. Call the police. 2. See number 1.

    Reading the testimony and looking at the Church today I continuously ask myself how the hell did all this come from “Love One Another As I Have Loved You.”

    1. Good God!!! Thanks for the link Charles; though instead of a “laugh” the above was my response on going to the site.
      My next response was to think of Fulton Sheen— the picture somehow brought it up.I had just recently listened to a rebroadcast [on EWTN] of a talk by Sheen [for all you youngsters- Fulton Sheen was a Catholic Bishop in the 40s-50-s on TV.]In fact, I was an altar server in D.C. during his talks at the Cathedral there. Anyway, I listened to the talk and had to reflect– he had something priests today don’t have, but I guess a lot of Catholics wished they did— he sincerely knew the Lord. He somehow never admitted that the church/denomination he was in had a lot of it wrong— he made the most of “the hand he was dealt.” But today? Most priests don’t have a clue what it is about— sorry to say.

  10. Gerald, I’m not sure I like the way you group together “atheists, liberals, agnostics,criminals, God haters, Gay Pride-homosexuals, feminists,you name it…” in your response to Dierdra. What’s up with that?

    Don’t you think that, sometimes, the Church just asks to be criticized? She holds herself up as The One True Church and everybody else is wrong: Mormons are pagans, Anglicans have “false orders”, it took 2000 years to apologize to the Jews etc etc. She wanders into the public realm, often like a bull in a china shop, attempting to impose her values on Everyone. But Woe Unto Him who points out the errors within. Then it becomes a William Donahue yell fest with the bias card played pretty quickly. Demonized are the folks who make public the child abuse. Demonized are the victims. But protected are the blessed priests. I think the testimony that we all just read is a pretty accurate portrayal of what the hierarchy thinks of the folks in the pews.

    Criminals. Great word. You probably meant murderers and robbers and grifters. But how about we expand the category to include, oh, say, bishops and cardinals. And, if the Irish Government proves to be right visavis the Cloyne Report, maybe we can include the Curia and the Pope too. Or is that me being a Liberal, Gay, Catholic, Anti-Catholic?

    That Bevilaqua has not been indicted and arrested and arraigned is apparently because he suffers from cancer and dementia. But we prosecute Mafia bosses who walk around Greenwhich Village in their pajamas; and we prosecute Nazi camp guards in Ohio even though they too are old and infirmed. What’s up with the double standard?Or is that me being anti-catholic?

    Many of us have been minimized by the Church our entire lives. We’ve been told that we are worth less than someone else. That we are sinners. You know, that “Love the Sinner but hate the Sin” crap. And now the curtain has been drawn and we see reality. We see priests raping children yet hearing our confessions. So, a RAPIST offers ME absolution for missing mass? We see an archbishop who lies and obstructs yet somehow gets it together to “sanctify the people”.

    It’s time for the people in the pews to rise up against their oppressors.

    1. Charles,
      I understand what you say about my “grouping” the various types who are critical of the Catholic Church. I didn’t mean they were all similar to one another, but just the opposite, they are disparate, and I probably left out some. I agree,as has been pointed out: Rome seems to be trying their d…dest to get everyone more angry toward them. 😉

  11. Incest victims are usually isolated – remember my children not being allowed to play with a family when the predator found his grandkids were playing with an outsider. These predators have found a church that will protect them. In Europe, several statements were made that is was acceptable to rape nephews. So glad to see the SNAP and others are witnesses to this horror. Need to protect victims and open the eyes of the public. Don’t need those “too ugly to be raped” judges or the wholesale dismissal of rape cases in the 70’s and 80’s – they wanted it – still gets me angry with the women who went through that.
    Still have police officers saying woman deserve it because they dress like —–. There are too many married predators out there that are raping boys and girls – the church knows better than to protect these monsters when we are supporting their lifestyles and they are raping our children. We also need to protect our kids when these criminals are released into society and not allow them to melt into out baseball, football soccer and other groups that allow them contact with kids.

  12. “still gets me angry with the women who went through that”.
    Sorry don’t mean I am angry at the women, meant angry along with the women. Sorry about that.

  13. Ok, thanks for clarifying Gerald (and asking the same question I had Charles).

    I am a liberal Catholic. I’m a female that works to support my family and provide health benefits. Does that make me a feminist? Probably so.

    I don’t like how the Catholic church puts down others. Particularly when we see this mess that they have created. You can put any lable you want on it. I don’t believe hate belongs in a church, for any people. I don’t believe that sexual abuse, lies, deception, and covering up of it belongs there either.

  14. I’m going to write this here because there’s no other place for people to see it and I haven’t posted it on my website. I know some of you were trying to participate in my website’s chat room. Unfortunately, I have been out of it lately. Six weeks ago, I fell backwards at work and landed on my lower back and in a whiplash effect, I slammed the back of my head on the floor… a commercial tile floor that is. I suffered a sever concussion and have Post Concussion Syndrome now, which gives me headaches and causes constant dizziness, confusion, and nausea.

    Also, I managed to crush a disk in between L1 – L3. The disk also was herniated and is jammed into my spinal cord, essentially clamping the nerve between the disk and my spine. I’ve also been diagnosed with two non-displaced severe fractures of my coccyx (tailbone). I’m on morphine and Percocet for pain, and I haven’t gotten out of bed much in the last several weeks.

    Much of the protesting and proactive stuff I’ve been involved with in the past is basically on the backburner until I can get better. Regrettably, 85% of the people who have done this kind of damage to their backs do require surgery, and with or without the surgery, the likely prognosis of when I will be pain-free is about 18-24 months.

    I’m still writing my letters to legislators and any politician who will listen. I do apologize to those 7-8 people who I received emails from, whom I know were popping in and out of the chat. I will try to be on the chat next Monday night.

    1. I hope you are feeling better soon. I’m sorry you are in so much pain. There are many new treatments out there for back injuries…hoping you find just the right doctor and method that works for you.

    2. Rich,
      So sorry to hear about your injuries and the back problems. I am so surprised because I would not have had any idea you were suffering all that when i read your posts here in the recent past.

      As Survivor’s wife wrote, there are many treatments available now for the disk problems. I have had some of them myself– injections etc. We have fine back surgeons here. They come up with more and more non-invasive type procedures that allow quick healing and pain-free outcomes. I pray you will find some of these answers to your situation.

  15. I too hope you are doing better soon.

    I had my shoulder repaired with my OWN stem cells taken from blood and a bit of fat. It was a very badly torn rotator cuff and my arm was useless. I was one armed for a year because I had no time to care for myself, taking care of my husband who then died.

    My shoulder stopped hurting, after a year of agony, on the second day after the procedure!!! It has been like a miracle.

    If you want to check them out, it is the Crane Clinic at Craneclinic.com in St. Lewis. They also go to Montana every couple months for West Coast people. It is usually covered by insurance…if not it is affordable!!!! They do knees instead of knee replacement surgury, necks, backs all manner of serious injuries. It is the most cutting edge procedure I know of, today. I am so grateful, as my step son had NINE surgeries trying to repair his torn rotator cuff, and is still in pain!!!

  16. I know this is posted under the incorrect blog but does anyone know where the 21 suspended priests are hiding? I am not saying all are guilty of sexual abuse, as some catholic parish members told me, most of them problaby just took the boys out for some ice cream, etc. Anyway, any bets that they are all having one hell of a summer’s vacation somewhere nice and expensive?

  17. I know this is posted under the incorrect topic, but just a simple question? Does anyone know how the investigation is progressing of the Philadelphia suspensed priests. I do not think that each and everyone of them is guilty of sexual abuse. But really, after 4 years of college and another 5 or 6 years in the seminary, many classes of child psychology, etc. and they do not know what constitutes “boundary issues” ? I have a hard time believing this. And since these educated clergy do not understand what a boundary issue is, can someone please explain it to me. Let’s see, would taking a young boy out for let’s just say an ice cream treat be a boundary issue? How about taking him to an “R” rated movie? Does anyone care to explain how far is too far?

    1. Abigail, I’ll try to find out how that is progressing. The boundary issues are outlined on the Archdiocesan Web site under the Office for the Protection of Youth and Children. Some are pretty creepy. It’s more like giving an underage child beer or porn. I know a few non-clergy adults who don’t seem to get that this is wrong. I think people are becoming better educated about this, though. My bigger concern is that there should be accountability when someone is repeatedly told it’s wrong and they continue to do it. This is still going on in some parishes and parents have no recourse. They go to the diocese and get no where.

    2. Abigail
      Although no one seems to know too much about the investigations,Gina Maisto Smith has said that the process will take 6 – 8 months. She will then give a recommendation to the Archbishop which will by then will be Archbishop Chaput, about each individual case. I believe most of the cases fall outside of anything criminal because of the statute of limitations so the decisions about the priests’s returning to ministry or being removed permanently will be an in house decsion by the Archdiocese.

  18. But in the meantime, something tells me that they are out there going about their business as usual. I heard one comment that once Archbishop Chaput reviews their files, this will put an end to it and these “wonderful” priests will be back doing God’s work. Believe me, I saw how some of them do “God’s Work”. Boundary issues aside, they vacation like playboys, befriend themselves to wealty families, when not wearing their coller, dress to the nines and make fun of the clothing the less fortunate people wear to Mass, I actually remember one pastor scolding an altar boy for wearing atheltic shoes. No dress shoes, then you can’t serve Mass. I am so sorry that I feel so bitter, but I at one time held onto my Catholic Faith like a shining jewel, now I feel so betrayed and foolish for beleiving for so long and for actually befriending priests and nuns, knowing full well that many of them were not acting in a Christ-like manner. I am new here and I feel that I am able to express some of the heaviness in my heart and I apologize if I sound hard and bitter.

    1. Welcome to the site. That’s exactly why I created this forum. Thank you for sharing how you feel and there’s no reason to apologize. I think we are all entitled to feel betrayed.

      1. Thank you Susan, you cannot know how relieved I am to read that other Catholics and former Catholics are so outraged at all of this. I have lost so many friends (Catholic) because I expressed my feelings to them. When I told them to read the Grand Jury Report, several of them told me that most of the testimony was made-up and that I was committing a sin by reading such an “evil” thing. I am an older woman who raised my children as practicing Catholics, want to know how many of them practice now — ZERO, I don’t know if I will ever find myself back to the Church but at least now I know I have a place here to at least begin to heal. I live in an extermely Catholic neighborhood and I was beginning to feel like an outcast for speaking out against the “sins” of the Church.

  19. Do you hear it????????????????????????Listen……………………Come on now………….. You have have to hear it?????????? It’s a group of church lawyer and leaders throwing Lynn under the Popemobile….Nobody wants to see Cardinal Bevilacqua on the stand because “they” believe we can not handle the truth…

    State – I want the truth!
    Bevilacqu: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by priests. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Mr. DA? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom! You weep for children and you curse the Catholic Church leaders. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that the abuse of a few children, while tragic, probably saved many more. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves children! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall! We use words like “father”, “son” & “holy ghost”. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them on Sundays! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very church that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “Thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you become a priest and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

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