Abuse probe of Philly cardinal widens

March 7, 2011 at 4:15 PM

PITTSBURGH, March 7 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh authorities are investigating the history of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, implicated in many coverups of clerical sex abuse in Philadelphia.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. told The Philadelphia Inquirer Friday his office is reviewing all abuse cases reported during Bevilacqua's 1983-88 tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh in light of the Philadelphia grand jury's latest findings.

Two juries in Philadelphia stopped just short of indicting the prelate, now 87 and in failing health. The second one said molestation was "known, tolerated and hidden by high church officials, up to and including the cardinal himself."

Nicholas Cafardi, who was counsel to the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the 1980s, said Friday he could not comment on whether Bevilacqua had ever assigned known abusers to parish ministry, saying he was "bound by confidentiality."

The one known tie to Pittsburgh involves the Rev. John Connor, who was arrested in 1984 for abusing a 14-year-old boy at a New Jersey Catholic high school. After six months of "treatment," Bevilacqua let him serve in Pittsburgh as a hospital chaplain. In 1988, after becoming archbishop of Philadelphia, he let Connor serve at a parish where no one was warned of his history.

Bevilacqua's doctors say he is too ill even to be told of last month's grand jury report.

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