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Jill Porter |

Philadelphia Daily News
September 23, 2005

IF NOTHING else, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is consistent - sickeningly so.

It still refuses to own up to its role in subjecting children to the sick whims of perverted priests.

This week, the archdiocese demeaned the pedophiles' victims and wasted its moral authority by denying its complicity in the sex scandal.

Stung by a blistering grand jury report that accused top church leaders of an "immoral" campaign to conceal sexual abuse in its ranks, the church sought refuge in a ridiculous defense: The report was motivated by anti-Catholic bias.


The allegation of prejudice is a groundless and transparent attempt to deflect blame and defuse the most damning account of cold-blooded moral corruption I have ever read.

The grand jury report detailed a calculated policy by church leaders, up to and including former Cardinals Bevilacqua and Krol, to conceal the crimes of predator priests by transferring them from one place to another, sacrificing the safety of children to save the church from scandal.

Frankly, the only equivalency that comes to mind in terms of institutionalized inhumanity - as much as I usually avoid inflammatory Holocaust metaphors - is the Third Reich.

In its written response and at a press conference, the archdiocese and its spokesmen characterized the report as "a vile, mean-spirited diatribe" that was "reminiscent of the days of rampant Know-Nothingism in the 1840s."

The reference was to a secret society that existed in the mid-1800s led by a man named Orr who traveled the country denouncing immigrants and trashing the Catholic Church.

Perhaps church leaders and their lawyer, William Sasso - who made the most pointed reference to religious prejudice - thought the accusation had currency at the moment, since anti-Catholic bias has been raised as a issue in the confirmation of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

But the self-righteous attempt to portray the archdiocese as the victim of religious prejudice is laughable on its face, considering that many of the 25 grand jurors, as well as detectives and prosecutors involved in the investigation, are Catholic, too.

Then again, of course, the face of the D.A.'s office is that of Lynne Abraham, who's Jewish.

Yes, some people think the church hoped the charge of anti-Catholicism would resonate with the public because of that.

Yes, there's talk that the outrageous remarks are a masked act of anti-Semitism.

I can't be sure about that, and I don't want to stoop to the same level the church did without clear and convincing evidence to back it up.

But, frankly, any conviction that church leaders are incapable of such gross moral lapses is dispelled by the atrocities documented in the report.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia would do better to regain its credibility not by itemizing the reports' alleged mistakes and errors, as it did in its formal written response; not by leveling sensational allegations that can't be substantiated; but by humbly apologizing to its parishioners and accepting responsibility for its lapses.

Can we all say amen?

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