Father James Brzyski
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Assigned as follows:
- 1977-1981 St. John the Evangelist (Morrisville, PA)
- 1978-1981 Serra Club – Lower Bucks
- 1981-1984 St. Cecilia (Philadelphia, PA)
- 1984-1985 Leave of Absence
- 1984-1985 Residence: Saint Luke Institute (Maryland)
Summary of Allegations Against Father James Brzyski:
According to the 2005 Grand Jury Report, Father James Brzyski was one of the Archdiocese’s most brutal abusers both emotionally and physically. The priest allegedly convinced a 12-year-old devout boy whom, beginning in 1983, he repeatedly anally raped, that the boy’s mother had sanctioned the acts. Another victim testified that Brzyski told him too that his parents had made “a deal” with Father Brzyski to allow the priest to sexually abuse him.
According to the report, one estimate claims that Father Brzyski sexually abused a hundred young victims during just seven years he spent in two parishes of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The victims were, as described by another priest, “shy, docile, bright, and intelligent.” The ones who testified before the Grand Jury could remember a time when they were happy, loving, and deeply religious. That all changed when Fr. Brzyski chose them as altar boys and began his unrelenting abuse, including fondling, oral sex, and anal rape. Father Brzyski abused some of his victims over a seven- or eight-year period.
According to the grand jury report, in 1984 Fr. Brzyski admitted to a Church official that he was a child molester. Archdiocese leaders knew the names of many of his victims and could have known the identities of many more had they simply followed up on reports they received. A concerned counselor at Bishop Egan High School, who was also a priest, persistently reported victims’ names to Church officials and sought help for the victims to no avail. He informed the Chancery that Father Brzyski was still involved with many of the boys and their families. He told his superiors that the parents of some of the boys had come to him concerned about changes in their children’s personalities and behavior. The high school counselor and a school psychiatrist told Archdiocese of Philadelphia officials that it was therapeutically important to inform the parents about their sons’ abuse and counsel the victims. Archdiocese managers, however, directed the school psychiatrist not to initiate counseling for the boys about their abuse.
Although Father Brzyski admitted “several acts of sexual misconduct” involving minors, Archdiocese of Philadelphia officials chose not to end the priest’s criminal rampage by reporting his offenses to the police. This was not a neglectful lapse but a calculated decision, a reflection of Archdiocese policy. Parents even of known victims — including those whose abuse may have been continuing – were not to be informed. And, as a 1986 memo by Vice Chancellor Donald F. Walker spelled out, “we could not actively seek further names of persons who may have been involved with Father Brzyski.” The policy shielded the Church from scandal and legal liability. It also consigned Father Brzyski’s victims to continued abuse.
Brzyski’s name appears on a secret 1994 memo authored by former Secretary of the Clergy, Msgr. William Lynn, and summarizing the sexual misconduct allegations kept in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s secret archive files. In the six-page memo, he lists several dozen priests, including Brzyski, whose name appears in the section entitled “Diagnosed Pedophiles.” After his misdeeds became known in 1984, Brzyski was sent to the notorious St. Luke Institute for evaluation and treatment. According to the grand jury report, he was diagnosed by treatment professionals as a pedophile.
Brzyski eventually relocated to North Texas after living in several other places across the country. He was found dead in a Dallas motel room in September 2017.
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