Catholic World News

Illinois justice laments Philadelphia scandal, criticizes Pope’s response

April 29, 2011

In an op-ed piece, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, who served as interim chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, lamented the findings of a recent Philadelphia grand jury report on abuse in the archdiocese and concluded that Pope Benedict and “other men” are allowing “the unspeakable to occur.”

“The news that more than 24 active priests in Philadelphia face abuse accusations, and that some were allowed to remain in active ministry after accusations were made against them years ago, raises new fears,” she writes. “For me, these are much more than institutional nightmares. This makes me wonder what kind of people we are dealing with when we engage the bishops. How is it that they say one thing and secretly intend something else? Are they ever to be trusted? … Little has changed.”

She added, “I'm curious: How do the cardinals of the United States view the behavior of Cardinal Justin Rigali in Philadelphia, and the behavior of his predecessor, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua?”

After criticizing Pope Benedict’s response to Irish abuse scandal as insufficient, Burke concluded that “we must be blunt with the Holy Father and the other men who continue by either business as usual, or misguided loyalty, to permit the unspeakable to occur.”

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 29, 2011 6:57 PM ET USA

    A. Burke simply doesn't know the facts concerning the Philadelphia situation. The Archdiocesan authorities have needlessly destroyed the reputations of numerous priests who were cleared after exhaustive investigations & have documentation to prove it. Priests no longer have any civil rights. The Cardinal has miserably failed his priests and the people. He has caved into the pressure of the DA's office which has demonstrated their bias toward the Catholic Church.

  • Posted by: Obregon - Apr. 29, 2011 3:51 PM ET USA

    Gee, I wish the Holy Father would respond to this woman as "bluntly" as she has spoken about him!

  • Posted by: rjdobie9424 - Apr. 29, 2011 1:13 PM ET USA

    It is disturbing to read that the good justice does not seem to think that people are innocent until proven guilty: her comments help perpetuate an opposite injustice: good priests have been removed from ministry based on flimsy and malevolently motivated accusations which have turned out to be false. As someone who lives in Philadelphia and has seen this happen up close, I suspect that bishop are again doing the "easy" thing, but in this case rail-roading priests instead of victims.

  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Apr. 29, 2011 12:52 PM ET USA

    Quite frankly, despite her lofty titles, Anne Burke doesn't know what she's talking about. The truth is that Philadelphia has investigated and removed scores of priests that it has found to be guilty of abuse. See for yourself at the archdiocese's own web site: The 24 that were allowed back to ministry were men whose cases were thoroughly investigated and found to have no credibility. (Some of which did not involve abuse at all.)