Donna Crilley Farrell is to be rewarded for related services to the pope during ongoing and recent Child Abuse Scandals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for her work in Public Relations and as AD spokesperson.
Pope Benedict XVI selected Farrell to receive the Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface cross …the highest ecclesiastical honor that can be bestowed upon (a) lay person in the Roman Catholic Church.
...scheduled to receive the papal award June 2 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia during 6:30 p.m. Mass celebrated by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput who nominated (her) for the honor.
Farrell, who last Dec. 3 left the archdiocese to become manager of external affairs for Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia, worked in the archdiocesan communications office for nearly 14 years, the last seven and a half of which she served as director. …
About three months after Farrell was promoted to director of the archdiocesan communications department in 2005, Pope John Paul II died.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, who was then archbishop of Philadelphia, had been an English translator for the pontiff, so Farrell was pressed into duty despite being very sick with the flu.
“He did 40 network interviews between Friday night and early the next week,” said Farrell.
Five months later, in September 2005, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham released the first of two clerical sexual abuse grand jury reports that accused 63 priests of sexually abusing children in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over four decades. At the time, Farrell’s boss was former Marple resident Bishop Michael Burbidge, who now heads the Raleigh, N.C. diocese.
“I said to Bishop Burbidge, ‘So what do you have planned for my second year on the job?’” recalled Farrell.
Six years later, she and her staff had to handle press inquiries about a second Philadelphia grand jury report released by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams that resulted in the arrest of a lay teacher and three priests for allegedly abusing children, and the suspension of more than 20 other priests.
One priest pleaded guilty, another priest and the lay teacher were convicted in a jury trial and a third priest is awaiting retrial after his first trial resulted in a hung jury. The 2011 grand jury report also resulted in the arrest and conviction of former secretary of clergy the Rev. Monsignor William Lynn for child endangerment for not turning a suspected pedophile priest over to civil authorities, making him the highest-ranking church official in the United States to be convicted in such a case.
“Several of the bishops said to me, they would say, ‘I hope you’re taking care of your own spiritual life,’”(*) noted Farrell. “There are always people who commit sins and make mistakes and do horrible things. I separate them from my faith.”
(*) Imagine being the only innocent in the Nest of Vipers at “222” and getting a medal from the pope too.
I really think the award was given when Chaput’s Denver people took over 222 and forced the old timers like Farrell out. Whatever.
Imagine Rigali giving 40 media interviews on one weekend. That was harder than Big Frank worked in the last twenty years of his life. Thank you Donna for being a life coach with Frank on that.
Exactly how many media interviews did Rigali give on the Child Abuse thing (off the record)?
Did I mention, she gets a medal from the pope?
A great honour.