'We mean rape'

When discussing child abuse by clergy, visitors to this web site often make statements like the following, which appeared yesterday:

>>>Do you really think the bishop's only concern was to protect the image of the Church or to shield the abuser? You think the bishop had no concern for the child? Please answer the question directly.

My answer: Read (if you can bear it) the 2005 grand jury report from Philadelphia:

Grand jury findings: Philadelphia cardinals 'excused and enabled abuse, covered up crimes'


A grand jury that investigated the Philadelphia archdiocese for more than three years has concluded that two former archbishops orchestrated a systematic cover-up spanning four decades that managed to successfully shield from prosecution 63 priests who had sexually abused hundreds of children.

In a 418-page report issued Sept. 21, the grand jury said that the two archbishops -- the retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and the late Cardinal John Krol -- “excused and enabled the abuse” by “burying the reports they did receive and covering up the conduct ... to outlast any statutes of limitation.”

The Philadelphia grand jury used blunt language to describe the sex abuse uncovered during the investigation, which they said was often recorded by the archdiocese in more than 45,000 pages of documents from secret archdiocese archives with such “delicate euphemisms” as “inappropriate touching.”

“We mean rape,” the grand jury report said. “Boys who were raped orally, boys who were raped anally, girls who were raped vaginally.”

The church records, once kept under lock and key in a room at archdiocesan headquarters accessible only to the archbishop, the secretary for clergy and their aides, contained accusations of “countless acts of sexual depravity against children.” The cases involved a total of 169 priests and hundreds of alleged child victims. The records were turned over to Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham after multiple subpoenas were served on officials at the archdiocese. The grand jury chose to investigate the acts of 63 priests in their report.

Related story: Shining light on a cover-up: A priest and a prosecutor detail how it happened

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here