Pennsylvania Diocese Published the Names of 71 Church Members Accused of Child Sexual Abuse
HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA — August 2, 2018
The Roman Catholic diocese apologized to the public, and announced it would hold accountable the implicated bishops who had led the church for the past 70 years, having their names stripped from all church properties.
At a news conference called to detail the church’s response, Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer, appointed in 2014, expressed his 'profound sorrow' regarding the cases of sexual misconduct.
“Many of those victimized as children continue to suffer as survivors from the harm they experienced,” he said.
The release of the nearly 900-page state grand jury report on clergy abuse is still being held back by the legal challenges of some priests and former priests.
The state Supreme Court ruled last week a version of the document with redactions can be made public as early as next week. The court said it identified more than 300 “predator priests” in the six dioceses.
All of the accused have been convicted of crimes. Some are waiting for punishment. In a few instances, people who were cleared of allegations by the diocese or police were not listed.
The Harrisburg list includes 37 priests, three deacons and six seminarians from the diocese, nine clergy members from other dioceses and 16 from the broader religious community. Gainer said the conduct was classified as indecent behavior. The inappropriate behavior included kissing and inappropriate communication with children.
Most of the allegations date from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, the diocese said.
Gainer said that church leaders had failed to protect children by not adequately responding to allegations of sexual misconduct over the years.
State Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Democrat from the Reading area, praised Gainer and other church leaders for the successful work and urged support for legislation aimed to eliminate the statute of limitations on civil and criminal child abuse cases.
“They’ve done all this on the heels of the grand jury report coming out. Still, nonetheless, they did it and that part is great,” he said. Rozzi, who was sexually abused by a priest as a boy, supports the proposed legislation which would repeal time limits on lawsuits and criminal charges, as well as establish a two-year window during which lawsuits from past abuse incidents could be filed.
In its report this spring, the Erie Diocese identified more than 50 priests and lay people accused of child sexual abuse.
Earlier this summer, an important related incident took place in the Vatican. On July 28, Pope Francis announced that he had accepted Theodore McCarrick’s resignation after public allegations were made accusing him of sexual misdeeds involving a teenager, which were said to have been perpetrated by the cleric in 1971 and 1972. Now aged 88, he claims to have no recollection of the alleged incidents. The Vatican also accepted the resignation of other senior prelates who were embroiled in abuse scandals.