MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL’S REPORT, July 23, 2003
The investigation did produce evidence that widespread sexual abuse of children was due to an institutional acceptance of abuse and a massive and pervasive failure of leadership.
A. Top Archdiocese officials knew of the extent of the abuse problem for many years before it became known to the public.
B. The Archdiocese's response to reports of the sexual abuse of children, including maintaining secrecy of reports, placed children at risk.
C. The Archdiocese did not notify law enforcement authorities of clergy sexual abuse allegations. Clergy were not mandated reporters until 2002. Archdiocese policy of 1993 did not require reporting.
D. Archdiocese officials did not provide all relevant information to law enforcement authorities during criminal investigations.
E. The Archdiocese failed to conduct thorough investigations of clergy sexual abuse allegations.
F. The Archdiocese placed children at risk by transferring abusive priests to other parishes.
G. The Archdiocese placed children at risk by accepting abusive priests from other dioceses.
PHILADELPHIA GRAND JURY I, 2003-2005, Report issued Sept. 15, 2005
This report contains the findings of the Grand Jury: how dozens of priests sexually abused hundreds of children; how Philadelphia Archdiocese officials -including Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol -excused and enabled the abuse; and how the law must be changed so that it doesn't happen again. Some may be tempted to describe these events as tragic. Tragedies such as tidal waves, however, are outside human control. What we found were not acts of God, but of men who acted in His name and defiled it.
But the biggest crime of all is this: it worked. The abuser priests, by choosing children as targets and trafficking on their trust, were able to prevent or delay reports of their sexual assaults, to the point where applicable statutes of limitations expired. And Archdiocese officials, by burying those reports they did receive and covering up the conduct, similarly managed to outlast any statutes of limitation. As a result, these priests and officials will necessarily escape criminal prosecution. We surely would have charged them if we could have done so. But the consequences are even worse than the avoidance of criminal penalties. Sexually abusive priests were either left quietly in place or "recycled" to unsuspecting new parishes -vastly expanding the number of children who were abused. It didn't have to be this way. Prompt action and a climate of compassion for the child victims could have significantly limited the damage done. But the Archdiocese chose a different path. (Introduction to the Grand Jury Report, p. 1)
The behavior of Archdiocese officials was perhaps not as lurid as that of the individual priest sex abusers. But in its callous, calculating manner, the Archdiocese's "handling" of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself. The evidence before us established that Archdiocese officials at the highest levels received reports of abuse; that they chose not to conduct any meaningful investigation of those reports; that they left dangerous priests in place or transferred them to different parishes as a means of concealment; that they never alerted parents of the dangers posed by these offenders (who typically went out of their way to be friendly and helpful, especially with children); that they intimidated and retaliated against victims and witnesses who came forward about abuse; that they manipulated "treatment" efforts in order to create a false impression of action; and that they did many of these things in a conscious effort simply to avoid civil liability.
In short, as abuse reports grew, the Archdiocese chose to call in the lawyers rather than confront the abusers. Indeed Cardinal Bevilacqua himself was a lawyer, with degrees from both a canon law school and an American law school. Documents and testimony left us with no doubt that he and Cardinal Krol were personally informed of almost all of the allegations of sexual abuse by priests, and personally decided or approved of how to handle those allegations. (Overview of the cover-up by archdiocese officials, p. 3)