Archbishop addresses priest abuse

Ashley Augello

Justin Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, spoke in the Connelly Center on Monday night about Catholic higher education and the Church in the world of the future. What was intended as a reflection on the 40th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes, which translates into “joy and hope,” turned into an open forum on the recently released grand jury report about sexual abuse by priests and the alleged cover-up by the Philadelphia archdiocese. In the question-and-answer forum following the speech, Rigali faced heated questions about the sexual abuse scandal. The most contentious of the questions came from audience member Judy Gray, who noted that Rigali used the term “human dignity” 37 times in his speech and asked how it could be applied to his support of “criminal cardinals who have protected oral and anal rape.””I will have to leave that judgment up to God,” Rigali said.

“I’m sure you will. I’m sure you will,” she said.  “You’re a phony.” A youth minister urged Rigali to meet with youths who are dealing with the problems caused by the report. “It’s been a rough week,” she said.

“It’s been a rough three and a half years.  We need to heal.  Our youth needs to heal.  You need to hear this youth.  They’re hurting and disillusioned.” Rigali agreed that work had to be done, stating that the young people may be “struck down but not held down,” and that “Christian hope is greater than dejection.”  

He did not specifically commit to meeting with any youth. The heated questions ceased when moderator, Dr. Bernard Prusak, asked that the remainder of the questions be focused on the “topic at hand.” Prusak is chair of Villanova’s department Of theology and religious studies.

He made note of Rigali’s courage for coming to Villanova despite the happenings of the past week. Gaudium et Spes is the pastoral constitution on the church in the modern world.

 It was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on Dec. 7, 1965.   It is divided into two parts.  Part one is about the dignity of the human person and about human activity throughout the world. Part two is titled “problems of special urgency.”

 It deals with the dignity of marriage and family, proper development of culture, socio-economic life, life of the political community, and fostering peace and international community. On July 15, 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed Archbishop Rigali as the 12th bishop and eighth archbishop of Philadelphia.

He was named a Cardinal on Sept. 28, 2003. Cardinal Rigali is the spiritual leader of almost 1.5 million Catholics in the City of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery.

The full grand jury report can be viewed at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s website.