Unapologetic Egan continues to defend role in priest sex-abuse scandals
Updated 3:11 pm, Thursday, February 16, 2012
Days after former New York Cardinal Edward Egan drew harsh criticism over comments he made over his handling of the priest sexual-abuse scandal while bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, the retired prelate is continuing to defend his actions.
In a new statement published on the Archdiocese of New York's website, Egan claims that while he was Bridgeport bishop and New York cardinal, there was not "even one known case of the sexual abuse of a minor by a priest throughout my tenure."
That comment is contrary to church documents obtained by the Connecticut Post that show Egan was made aware of specific allegations of abuse by priests when he became Bridgeport bishop in 1988. Documents also showed not only did Egan not report the abuse claims to police, but he covered up the allegations, moving offending priests around the diocese.
In the online edition of Connecticut Magazine, Egan insisted that while he was Bridgeport bishop from 1988 to 2000, he did nothing wrong regarding abuse allegations against priests.
He also said he believes there is no legal requirement to report abuse cases in Connecticut and expressed regret for the apology he made regarding the priest scandal here.
In his statement on the New York diocesan website, Egan said: "There needs to be a response to recently published statements about the abuse of minors by priests during my years as shepherd of two splendid communities of faith.
"In neither was there ever even one known case of the sexual abuse of a minor by a priest throughout my tenure. Nor was the payment to a victim in exchange for silence ever even proposed, just as there has never been any failure on my part to speak the whole and unvarnished truth in depositions of any kind whatever.
"For all of this I daily thank the Lord, just as I thank Him too for the virtuous and dedicated priests with whom I have had the privilege of working in the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Archdiocese of New York.
"The suffering and damage that the sexual abuse of minors causes to innocent children and their loved ones are horrendous beyond all expression. For a bishop and his priests there is nothing more important than seeing to it that no such incredibly painful and destructive offense against the law of God and man ever occurs in any parish, institution, or agency of the church."
Since Egan's comments were published online by Connecticut Magazine, Senior Assistant State's Attorney Cornelius Kelly said under Connecticut law, since 1971, clergy have been among those "mandated reporters" who are obligated to inform law enforcement agencies when they are aware of allegations of sexual abuse against children.
Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called Egan "unrepentant, self-absorbed and painfully dismissive of the abject suffering of tens of thousands of deeply wounded men, women and children who have been sexually violated by priests, nuns, bishops, brothers, seminarians and other Catholic officials."
"For the cardinal to take back his apology is just another slap in the face of every victim who has endured the physical and emotional upheaval and betrayal of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest."
Bridgeport Bishop William Lori has declined comment on Egan's remarks. His spokesman, Brian Wallace, said "Bishop Lori stands on his own record. He came into a crisis, a most painful time in the local church's history, he responded in a way that not only addressed the crisis in our diocese, but set a model for the national church."