"The situation here in Philadelphia is deeply disturbing, and it's further proof that the bishops are incapable of protecting our children and policing themselves," said Dan Bartley, president of Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic church-reform group.
He called for the church to stop fighting the two bills; for disciplinary action against church officials and employees who violate the established child-protection charter; for more effective audits of priests' personnel flies; and for changes to the structure of victim-assistance programs to insulate them from church officials.
Of the case's five defendants, all were in court except James Brennan, 47, a priest who asked to be excused and had previously pleaded not guilty. He is charged with raping a 14-year-old boy at his Chester County apartment in 1996.
The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 64; defrocked priest Edward Avery, 68; and former Catholic schoolteacher Bernard Shero, 48, are charged with raping another boy from 1998 to 2000, starting when the boy was 10.
Monsignor William Lynn, 60, is the first Catholic official in the U.S. to be charged with child endangerment for transferring accused priests instead of removing them from the ministry.
Bartley seethed when asked about Lynn, who was once the Philadelphia Archdiocese's secretary for clergy.
"Any person - Catholic or non-Catholic - who reads the grand-jury report cannot be other than absolutely appalled by his behavior and the fact that he knew that this was going on," Bartley said.