Dioceses More Responsive to Abuse Scandals; Decades of Silence by the Roman Catholic Church regarding Child Sexual Abuse by Priests Has Given Way to an Era of Atonement, as Public Apologies and Condemnation Come from Local Dioceses Up to the Vatican. [Derived Headline]

By Cato, Jason | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 6, 2016 | Go to article overview

Dioceses More Responsive to Abuse Scandals; Decades of Silence by the Roman Catholic Church regarding Child Sexual Abuse by Priests Has Given Way to an Era of Atonement, as Public Apologies and Condemnation Come from Local Dioceses Up to the Vatican. [Derived Headline]


Cato, Jason, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Decades of silence by the Roman Catholic Church regarding child sexual abuse by priests has given way to an era of atonement, as public apologies and condemnation come from local dioceses up to the Vatican.

But that isn't enough for some. The church needs to name priests suspected of abuse, like those outed last week in a 147-page grand jury report about the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, so more go to prison, said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"More words, clearer words, sadder words -- it's all words, and words protect no one. Decisive actions protect kids," said Clohessy, expressing a desire for local dioceses to post online the names of priests accused of sexually abusing children. "They often are fixated on PR, policies, panels and protocols that look terrific on paper but essentially are worthless.

"Sincerity must be judged by actions, not words."

Leaders of the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh and Greensburg said they are committed to stopping sexual abuse and righting decades of wrongs.

"I would hope in every diocese we realize we can never do enough to keep this horror from occurring," said Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, who will host a special "Service of Apology" March 21 in St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

He said the Mass is not related to the allegations of abuse in Altoona-Johnstown, which Attorney General Kathleen Kane made public in the same week that "Spotlight," a movie about The Boston Globe's investigative reporting into decades of abuse there, won the Academy Award for best film. A Somerset County priest was sentenced last week to nearly 17 years in prison for molesting orphans during mission trips to Central America.

All U.S. dioceses in 2002 adopted zero-tolerance policies for dealing with suspected sexual abuse, though the Greensburg Diocese's policy dates to 1985 and Pittsburgh's to 1988.

Edward Malesic, who last year became bishop in Greensburg, said the church has to remain watchful for cases of abuse and clerical perpetrators.

"This has been a terrible issue for the church for many years," Malesic said. "It's extremely important that the church be vigilant and make sure children are safe."

That includes conducting background checks on everyone who works for or volunteers with the diocese and reporting every case of suspected child abuse to authorities, he said.

"I can't change the past, and I can't change what happened in Altoona-Johnstown," Malesic said. "But I can be strong here in Greensburg."

Messages left with the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese were not returned. In a statement, Bishop Mark Bartchak noted the diocese cooperated with authorities and is reviewing the grand jury's report, which ended an investigation that lasted nearly two years.

"I deeply regret any harm that has come to children, and I urge the faithful to join me in praying for all victims of abuse," said Bartchak, who committed to posting on the diocese's website the names and current status of every priest in the diocese accused of abuse.

Philadelphia is the only other diocese in Pennsylvania to have posted such a list, according to bishop-accountability. …

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Dioceses More Responsive to Abuse Scandals; Decades of Silence by the Roman Catholic Church regarding Child Sexual Abuse by Priests Has Given Way to an Era of Atonement, as Public Apologies and Condemnation Come from Local Dioceses Up to the Vatican. [Derived Headline]
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