The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office has been investigating a well-known suspect in child sexual abuse.
Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has accused a high-ranking priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia of helping a pedophile priest in the 1970s, giving him access to young boys. Bishop William Murphy, a member of the church’s top clergy, has denied the accusation.
The news about Murphy has been a source of heartache for the local community. Families have been told of their children’s own ordeals. Paging Monsignor Murphy, please fix this.
Mary Brown, a 73-year-old semi-retired bank worker, said that her father was a victim. He was abused in the church basement by a priest he felt he could confide in.
“Because it was a secret,” Brown said. “But we’re all victims. If you allow children to get hurt, you’re culpable.”
Brown was among about 50 people who gathered at Cathedral Basilica of St. Michael in Philadelphia on Sunday for a penance service.
A priest in the church introduced himself and led people in a prayer over the cardinal’s statue. Catholics are not allowed to press their luck, so before the Mass ended, some people kissed the statue, which was folded into a prayer book.
Priests were told that they would be “penance before the Lord,” a remedy for the sins of past wrongdoers.
Among those present were Peter and Patricia MacDonald, whose pastor in the early 1990s began sharing shocking news of sexual abuse of children. He started approaching church leaders with letters and pictures of victims, and told the Macdonalds of his own abuse. The bishop, who was not named, quickly notified the district attorney and the FBI.
“I don’t know how he did it but he was so nice,” said Patricia MacDonald, 67. “He did not try to intimidate or scare us and I respect him.”
The two plan to go to Los Angeles, possibly next year, for the convention of the American Federation of Priests in May. They’re already looking for a business opportunity.
“We’re going for it, we’re going to try to convert and touch people,” she said.