Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug 14, 2018 / 14:12 pm
Following the Aug. 14 release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse allegations in six Catholic dioceses, the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton released separate statements acknowledging failures to protect children, and pledging to make amends.
Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg said in a statement that he was “saddened” by the report, “for once again we read that innocent children were the victims of horrific acts committed against them.”
Gainer also apologized again to the survivors of child sex abuse and to the public, both for past abuses and for the Church officials who allowed the abuse to occur.
Harrisburg’s bishop also sought to reassure the faithful that policies had changed to ensure a safer environment, and that “there is nothing we take more seriously than the protection of those who walk through our doors. [...] The safety and well-being of our children is too important not to take immediate and definitive action.”
Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton released a seven-minute video in response to the grand jury report’s findings.
“While this is an uncomfortable and unsettling topic, we must speak openly and frankly about it,” said Bambera.
“I offer my deepest apologies for such behavior and for the consequences of this tragic reality in our Church.”
Bambera described the incidents in the report as a “dark chapter” in the 150-year history of the diocese.
“You have a right to be angry,” he said. “I am angry too,” noting that it was “particularly abhorrent” that abuse is alleged to have occurred in a Church environment. Bambera also outlined the steps his diocese has taken to protect children, including background checks and abuse training.
Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie, who was the only bishop singled out for praise by the Pennsylvania attorney general, offered in a statement in an apology to the victims of abuse, saying they suffered from “unimaginably cruel behavior” for which they bore no responsibility.
Perscio praised abuse survivors for having the courage to come forward with their stories, while he also acknowledged that there are others who have not yet shared their experiences.