Philly Judge Orders Cardinal to Appear for a Competency Hearing

Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina has ordered retired Philadelphia Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua to appear before her for a competency hearing so that she can determine whether the 80-year-old Cardinal is able to appear as a witness in Monsignor William Lynn’s criminal conspiracy trial involving the sexual abuse of minors in the Archdiocese.
While Bevilacqua gave extensive grand jury testimony in 2003-04 which resulted in the Philadelphia grand jury report. A subsequent grand jury report recommended criminal charges against Monsignor William Lynn and other Philadelphia priests. Bevilacqua’s testimony is crucial because his grand jury testimony is not admissible unless and until defense attorneys are allowed to cross examine the Cardinal.
While defense attorneys for Cardinal Bevilacqua have maintained that he is infirm and incapacitated, recently revealed photos show him engaged during public gatherings in 2009 and 2010.
It’s not clear what the competency hearing will produce. However, it marks an important step in the right direction as far as holding high ranking Church officials accountable for their conduct and supervision of abuse allegations and the handling of those priests accused of child sex abuse.