This is not exactly what the Archdiocese of Philadelphia needed.
Already neck-deep in a new wave of abuse claims against priests and former priests that resulted in criminal charges, as well as charges of child endangerment filed against a high-ranking archdiocese official, the church is now getting smacked with a new wave of unflattering headlines.
The longtime athletic director and baseball coach at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor yesterday was charged with trying to solicit one of his former athletes to commit sex acts.
According to the affidavit of probable cause issued for his arrest, Francis Murphy offered to become the teen’s “sugar daddy,” in effect trading some things the student needed in exchange for sexual favors.
Something else happened yesterday that did not receive nearly the publicity, but which made abuse advocates who have been at war with the archdiocese for years furious.
They pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI bestowed a special honor on Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali, asking him to represent the pontiff at a special church celebration in the Czech Republic in June.
To put in bluntly, they were incredulous. They simply do not understand that, among all the cardinals at his disposal, the Holy Father instead selected Rigali.
“There are two possible explanations,” wrote Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “Vatican officials are either incredibly stupid – and no one believes that – or incredibly callous.”
Probably not the way church officials wanted to kick off the holiest week on the calendar, as the faithful take part in Holy Week activities leading up to Easter.