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A grand jury has been investigating the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on abuse issues for three years. They’ve issued the report.

The grand jury, which investigated the archdiocese for more than three years, concluded that at least 63 priests – and probably many more – sexually abused hundreds of minors over the past several decades.

But even more disturbing, the jurors found, was the coverup by the two previous archbishops, Cardinals John Krol and Anthony J. Bevilacqua who, they concluded, "excused and enabled the abuse" and put the legal and financial interests and moral reputation of the archdiocese ahead of protecting the children entrusted to its care.

"Those choices went all the way to the top – to Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol personally," the report states.

"…The behavior of Archdiocese officials was perhaps not so lurid as that of the individual priest sex abusers. But in its callous, calculating manner, the Archdiocese’s "handling" of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself."

….

The 418-page report, containing 27 profiles of individual abusers, is unrelenting in its descriptions of priest sexual abuse, and unsparing in its criticism of Krol, Bevilacqua and other church officials for failing to protect children. It details numerous examples:

* One priest, described as "one of the sickest people I ever knew" by the Archdiocese official in charge of investigations, was allowed by Bevilacqua to remain a priest with full access to children – until the sex abuse scandal broke in 2002.

* One archdiocese official comforted a priest abuser by suggesting that perhaps the priest had been "seduced" by his victim – who was 11 years old.

* Bevilacqua "agreed to harbor a known abuser" from another diocese, after the priest’s activities there started becoming known. The practice was known as "bishops helping bishops."

In response, the church said the report unfairly maligned the motives of the cardinals. "Cardinal Bevilacqua’s remarkable record of service belies the report’s vicious treatment of him…This personal attack against a longstanding leader in our community was neither accurate, nor necessary."

In a press conference, Philadelphia District Lynne Abraham fired back at the church’s rebuttal, saying it was filled with the "all-too-familiar denials, deceptions and evasions" that she said had characterized the church’s handling of the abuse crisis.

Here’s a link to the report – a pdf file

I can’t find a link to the Archdiocese’s response. If anyone finds it, post, please.

From the grand jury report:

The hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by priests that the Archdiocese has received since 1967 have included serious crimes – among them, the genital fondling and anal, oral, and vaginal rape of children. Sometimes the abuse was ongoing at the time it was reported. The obvious response would have been to report such crimes to law enforcement, to allow police to investigate and to stop the perpetrators. The Archdiocese managers, however, never reported a single instance of sexual abuse – even whenadmitted by the priests – and did everything in their power to prevent others from reporting it.

Cardinal Bevilacqua was asked repeatedly when he testified before the Grand Jury why he and his aides never reported these crimes to law enforcement. His answer was simply that Pennsylvania law did not require them to. That answer is unacceptable (as well as the result of a strained and narrow interpretation of a law specifically intended to require reporting sexual abuse of children). It reflects a willingness to allow such crimes to continue, as well as an utter indifference to the suffering of the victims. Such thinking is the reason, for example, that Fr. Leneweaver, an admitted abuser of 11- and 12-year-old boys, was able to receive a clean criminal record check and teach Latin at Radnor Middle School last year. (pp. 44-45)

UPDATE:  There are links to the Archdiocesan reponses in the comments and Rocco, who is from Philly, has various reports.

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