St. Louis Archbishop to Take Over Philadelphia
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Archbishop Justin F. Rigali of St. Louis a theological conservative
who spent three decades at the Vatican, was appointed yesterday
by Pope John Paul II to succeed Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua
of Philadelphia, who is retiring at the age of 80.
Philadelphia is a historic American archdiocese with more
than 1.5 million Roman Catholics. The archbishop there is
traditionally made a cardinal, enabling him to vote on the
Cardinal Bevilacqua introduced his successor at a news conference
in Philadelphia yesterday morning, saying of Archbishop Rigali,
"He is a man of piety, prayer and deep faith, known for
his loyalty to the Holy Father and for his unwavering fidelity
to the teachings of the church."
In his nine years in St. Louis, Archbishop Rigali, 68, won
the admiration of church conservatives by emphasizing a return
to the Roman Catholic sacraments. He expressed his opposition
to abortion by fighting, although unsuccessfully, the sale
of a Jesuit-owned university hospital complex to a secular
corporation to prevent the hospitals from performing abortions
and from dispensing birth control.
"He has done very good things in St. Louis," said
Helen Hull Hitchcock, who lives in St. Louis and is director
of Women for Faith and Family, a conservative Catholic group.
When a liberal Catholic reform group called Catholics for
Renewal sought to meet in St. Louis parishes a few years ago,
Archbishop Rigali forbade it, said Dan Daly, a founder of
Call to Action, which is affiliated with the reform group.
"He did not brook differences of opinion very well,
and at this point in time in the church, that may be problematic
bringing that to Philadelphia," Mr. Daly said.
Archbishop Rigali also came under harsh criticism in St.
Louis from victims of sexually abusive priests.
"He's among the least open and least compassionate bishops,"
David Clohessy, a St. Louis resident who is national director
of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said.
"In the nine years he's been in St. Louis, we've never
met with him, nor any of his auxiliary bishops, despite repeated
Mr. Clohessy said there were several priests with accusations
against them still in ministry. The spokesman for the archbishop,
Jim Orso, said that Archbishop Rigali removed all 10 priests
credibly accused of abuse from ministry last year.
Archbishop Rigali had agreed to meet last year with two leaders
of the Survivors Network, Mr. Orso added. But when the group
wanted more members at the meeting, the archbishop called
it off; this was a version of events that Mr. Clohessy did
Jennifer M. Joyce, who serves as prosecutor for the City
of St. Louis and is the elected prosecutor there, met with
Archbishop Rigali in March 2002 to encourage him to report
abuse allegations to authorities.
"I walked away from that meeting with the belief that
there were many people who had reported these incidents to
the church over the years, but that those reports were not
passed on to law enforcement," Ms. Joyce said in a telephone
Ms. Joyce said she had learned of the extent of the abuse
problem in St. Louis only after she went on television and
asked victims to come forward. After that, she said, the archbishop
has been cooperative in providing information to her investigators.
One priest and one former priest have been criminally charged,
Archbishop Rigali is to be installed as archbishop of Philadelphia
on Oct. 7. The pope has not yet appointed a new archbishop
for St. Louis.
Until the installation, Cardinal Bevilacqua will remain in
Philadelphia. He is the oldest American cardinal still running
an archdiocese. As expected, he had offered his resignation
five years ago when he turned 75, but the pope did not accept
it until yesterday.
Archbishop Rigali, who was born in Los Angeles and ordained
a priest there as well, is one of the first West Coast priests
to be named archbishop of a large East Coast archdiocese,
said the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of "Inside the Vatican"
and editor of the Jesuit magazine America.
Archbishop Rigali went to Rome as a young priest to study
canon law at Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1964, he
entered the Vatican diplomatic service, and later became the
English-language translator for Pope Paul VI. He traveled
abroad with Pope Paul VI and, later, with Pope John Paul II.
He held several other important posts in the Vatican: in
1989, he was named secretary for the Congregation for Bishops,
which makes recommendations on the appointment of bishops,
and in 1990, he became the secretary of the Cardinal of Cardinals.
He was appointed archbishop of St. Louis in 1994, and five
years later was rewarded when Pope John Paul II visited St.
Louis. Archbishop Rigali's official biography points out that
this was the pope's only visit to a single American diocese
during his pontificate.
"He's somebody who's very well connected in the Vatican,
is highly respected and trusted by Vatican officials, and
somebody the pope knows personally," Father Reese said.
"For that reason, the appointment is not surprising."