Former St. Ann's priest being defrocked

The Phoenix, Philadelphia/June 22, 2006
By Karin Williams

Donna Farrell, the director of communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said "we are not releasing any further information until tomorrow (Thursday) but I will confirm" that Father Craig R. Brugger is being defrocked, or laicized.

The Archdiocese will be making the official announcement about Brugger, 59, in its publication The Catholic Standard and Times today. After the newspaper is published, Farrell said, the Archdiocese will release additional information about the defrocking process.

Brugger, who was ordained in 1973, was alleged to have abused a 15-year-old boy while he was the pastor of St. Ann's Church in Phoenixville. He left St. Ann's in 1976.

In 1989, while he was the principal of St. James Catholic High School for Boys, he was allegedly found to be in possession of pornography. He was allowed to stay on at the school contingent on seeking counseling.

Brugger simultaneously served at six different parishes in Aston, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Media, Wallingford and Chester, all of which had schools.

After leaving St. James in 1993, he became the principal of Bishop McDevitt High School for one year, then the president of Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic School, Norristown, where he served until 1996. In 1996, he was assigned to St. Helena in Philadelphia.

In 2002, when a report about alleged molestation was filed with the Archdiocese and the priest abuse scandal broke, Brugger was placed on leave. In 2004, a Diocesan review board found the report to be credible, and Brugger was removed from active ministry awaiting action by the Vatican in Rome.

By definition, to defrock a priest is to deprive him of the right to exercise the functions of the priestly office.

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