Cardinal is ordered to court in pedophile sex abuse trial
Philadelphia retired prelate is ordered to testify despite advanced age
Published Sunday, August 7, 2011, 7:41 AM
Updated Sunday, August 7, 2011, 7:41 AM
In a major escalation, a Philadelphia judge has ordered former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua to testify in court in September about what he knows about child sex abuse cases in his archdiocese.
Irish American Monsignor William Lynn (60) who was Secretary for the Clergy, is facing trial on child endangerment charges arising out of transferring priests who later abused.
It is the first time that a priest not directly accused of molesting children, but facilitating moving suspected pedophiles around, has been tried.
Cardinal Bevilacqua is a key witness, but his lawyers have claimed that at 88 he is suffering from dementia and diminished memory.
Judge Teresa Armina has ordered him to attend a Sept 12th court hearing on the issue. Five defendants, four Catholic priests from the Philadelphia diocese and a former schoolteacher, have pleaded not guilty to the abuse, or allowing the abuse of altar boys.
At their hearing, four of the five defendants, excluding Fr. James Brennan (47), were present in court. He had asked to be excused having previously pleaded not guilty. He was charged with raping a 14-year-old boy at his Chester County apartment in 1996.
Rev. Charles Engelhardt (64), defrocked priest Edward Avery (68) and former Catholic schoolteacher Bernard Shero (48) are all charged with raping another boy from 1998 to 2000. When the ordeal began, the boy was only 10-years-old.
Monsignor William Lynn (60) made history by being the first Catholic official in the United States to be charged with endangering children by transferring accused priests instead of punishing them and removing them from their positions.
Speaking to Philly.com, Dan Bartley, the president of Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic church-reform group, said "The situation here in Philadelphia is deeply disturbing, and it's further proof that the bishops are incapable of protecting our children and policing themselves."
Bartley called on the church to stop fighting the two bills. If introduced, the bills would mean disciplinary action against church officials and employees of the church. It would also mean effective audits of priest's personnel files and also change in structure for victim assistance.
Speaking about Monsignor Lynn, Bartley said, "Any person - Catholic or non-Catholic - who reads the grand-jury report cannot be other than absolutely appalled by his behavior. “