Praying for victims of sex abuse and church accountability, Philly Catholics hold vigil

Inside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peters and Paul in Center City, Catholics from throughout the Philadelphia Archdiocese prayed Friday night for reparation and accountability in the wake of the latest report on predator priests in Pennsylvania.

And they prayed for those victimized by priests, the hundreds and hundreds who continue to suffer.

In early August, a report released detailed decades of sexual abuse of children and cover-ups by the church across the state.

Lifelong Catholic Bernard Farley, 76, of Northwest Philadelphia said the time for reform is now, and the ball is in the court of the church’s higher ups.

“The bishops have to make the amends,” he said, “and step up to the plate.”

The report described sex crimes carried out by 300 priests on more than 1,000 children. With heart-rending descriptions of systematic abuse in Scranton, Allentown, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie and Pittsburgh, the 900-page report stunned Catholics around the world.

Philadelphia wasn’t covered in the most recent account, but it has had its scandals. Between two grand jury reports in 2005 and 2011, scores of clergy members in the Philadelphia Archdiocese were implicated.

Elizabeth Ball of Chester County said Friday evening such reports are tragic, but she said sexual abuses are committed in all segments of society. She said the latest revelations do not affect her “relationship with the creator.”

Julie Curtin came to the basilica from Doylestown with a group of worshipers to show support for clergy members who are doing right by the church.

“We have to go out and be the voice for our good priests and our bishops and our church,” she said.

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