Pennsylvania: 300 Priests & Thousands of Victims!

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Jim's picture

The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. There have been ten previous reports by grand juries and attorneys general in the United States, according to the research and advocacy group, but those examined single dioceses or counties.

The report catalogs horrific instances of abuse, including a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out, and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a 17-year-old girl, forging a signature on a marriage certificate and then divorcing the girl.

“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” the grand jury wrote. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.”


The report said that church officials followed a “playbook for concealing the truth:” minimize the abuse using words like “inappropriate contact” instead of “rape”; assign priests untrained in sexual abuse cases to investigate their colleagues; when removing an accused priest, don’t inform the community of the real reasons.

“Tell his parishioners that he is on ‘sick leave,’ or suffering from ‘nervous exhaustion.’ Or say nothing at all,” the report said.

Jay's picture

I can't bring myself to read the details on this.  The headlines are disturbing and depressing enough.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ron Bean's picture

This is yet another exposure of the wide spread sexual abuse covered up by the RCC. What grieves me is that, while there will be some press coverage now, it will be forgotten and no longer be "news" in a couple of weeks and what should be widespread anger against an endemic problem within the RCC will disappear. 


"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

I'm guessing that, praise God, this one takes.  Keep in mind that we've been watching the Catholic scandal play out since the 1980s, and the Larry Nassar/gymnastics scandal is in its third year and still going at MSU, the USGA, and the USOC.  Southern Seminary in Louisville is even right now readying Rachael Denhollander's husband for an academic career in this area.  (yeah!)  We also still remember the Boy Scout scandal, thankfully now in terms of their leading the world in child protection.  I am personally helping my church and my homeschool group to get adequate policies in this regard, and quite frankly I'm bracing myself for the strong likelihood that I'll get more chances to help deal with this kind of thing.  (my first time was when I was about 12 and I reported some odd behavior of my babysitter, who was being molested by a teacher)

The big thing we need to pray for is that we learn our lessons.  People will (Romans 1, no?) succumb to perversion and do horrific things, and that has lifelong consequences for the victims.  We ought to therefore structure statutes of limitations to give victims better recourse at the jury box so they (and their families) don't resort (h/T Frederick Douglass) to the cartridge box, and we need to remember that organizations naturally tend to try to protect the organization.

Which only lets it fester (again, in our circles, ABWE, New Tribes, SGM, BJU) and makes it worse.  Weep for the victims here, yes, but also....remember.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

One matter coming into play again is going to be the retroactive removal of any statute of limitations for civil lawsuits.  Heard the Pa State Rep today saying he is going to push it again. Last time the Pa  State House Of  Representatives overwhelming past the tge bill but my State Senator Stewart Greenleaf blocked it.  Allegations were made that Greenleaf had a conflict of interest in the matter due to his private law firm representing the Catholic Church in Delaware for the same issue..  The State Rep pushing the issue again has said Governor Wolf is on board to sign off on the bill. 

Personally I think it’s legal shaky ground to apply the statute of limitations retroactively.  It’s very clear it can’t be done criminally.  Plus I’m sure the Catholic Church has mortgaged the farm in case this happens.  Can’t collect blood from a stone.  Now ABWE is a whole different matter unless the mortgages the farm already.  ABWE is able to ride the Catholic Church’s coattails without spending a dime.  The least they can do is send a campaign donation to Stewart Greenleaf.  

Bert Perry's picture

I don't know how, per Joe's comment, it works, but I do know that a lot of states have imposed extremely long statutes of limitations for both civil and criminal penalties without the courts overruling them on ex post facto grounds.  I am guessing that the argument is that if the action was actionable at a previous point, then relaxing the statute of limitations does not criminalize previously acceptable behavior--it simply modifies the period for redress.

As someone who figured out he'd been (mildly I think) abused at age 30 or so, I can support this--the pattern a couple of decades back (and sometimes even today) was to shove it under the carpet and blame the victim.  Moreover, it is again a lifelong injury that ought to have a period for redress more than a few years--to decide otherwise again risks taking the matter "outside the courts."  

And the cost?  Horrific, yes, but are we already paying it through mental health expenditures, incarceration, welfare programs, and the like?  My guess is "yes", and we might just find that we'd end up spending less for this if we make the matter clear and strive to target the help the victims really need.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.