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Diocese names 71 accused of child sex abuse, blames bishops

The Most Rev. Ronald Gainer, the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., discusses child sexual abuse by clergy and a decision by the diocese to remove names of bishops going back to the 1940s after concluding they did not respond adequately to abuse allegations. In his remarks at a news conference Aug. 1, 2018, in Harrisburg, the bishop also apologized to victims and said the diocese is posting an online list of 71 priests and others in the church accused of the abuse. Following the Erie Diocese, the Harrisburg Diocese is the second in Pennsylvania to get ahead of a roughly 900-page grand jury report that could be made public in August 2018. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has said the report found more than 300 "predator priests" in six of the state's eight dioceses. (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Roman Catholic diocese  identified 71 priests and other members of the church who had been accused of child sex abuse and said it was holding accountable the bishops who led the church for the past 70 years, announcing that their names will be stripped from all church properties.

At a news conference on Wednesday (Aug. 1)  to detail the church’s actions, Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer apologized to those who were abused, the Catholic faithful and the community and expressed his “profound sorrow.”

“Many of those victimized as children continue to suffer as survivors from the harm they experienced,” said the bishop, who was appointed in 2014.

With its announcement, the Harrisburg Diocese became the second of six dioceses under investigation by the state to get out in front of a pending grand jury report on clergy sex abuse. The Erie Diocese released its own findings on clergy abuse in April.

The release of the nearly 900-page state grand jury report has been held up by challenges by some priests and former priests. The state Supreme Court ruled last week that a version with some names blacked out can be made public as early as next week. The court said it identified more than 300 “predator priests” in the six dioceses.

Gainer said that the Harrisburg Diocese was making public the names of all those who faced allegations of child sex abuse but that it did not determine whether they all had merit, though some of those on the list have been convicted of crimes. He said no one on the list is currently in the ministry.

In a public letter, Gainer said shortcomings in past investigations and record keeping made it difficult in many cases to assess credibility or guilt or even determine the underlying conduct. 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 religious communities. Gainer said the conduct was classified as indecent behavior, inappropriate behavior such as kissing and inappropriate communication with children.

Most of the allegations date from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the diocese said.

Gainer said church leadership had failed to protect children by not adequately responding to all the allegations of sexual misconduct over the years.

The diocese is compiling a list of buildings and other properties named to honor clergy members and plans to remove the names of anyone accused of abuse, including all bishops going back to 1947.

The church also is waiving any confidentiality rights the diocese obtained while reaching abuse settlements over the years, Gainer said. The number of such settlements and their dollar values were not disclosed.

The church is adopting a series of new procedures to deal with complaints and to help protect against future abuse, the bishop said.

Any new complaint will be immediately forwarded to local authorities, background checks will be conducted on people working for the church, including volunteers, and all employees will be required to take part in training on how to recognize and report abuse, the diocese said.

Court documents have revealed that the pending state grand jury report, the work of a two-year investigation, includes allegations of obstruction of justice by people “associated with the Roman Catholic Church, local public officials and community leaders.”

In its report this spring, the Erie Diocese identified more than 50 priests and lay people accused of child sexual abuse.

The other dioceses investigated are in Pittsburgh and Greensburg in the western part of the state and Allentown and Scranton in the east. They collectively minister to more than 1.7 million Catholics.

Previous investigations have found widespread sexual abuse by priests in the state’s two other dioceses, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown.

(Mark Scolforo writes for The Associated Press.)

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  • And the vomit train continues!! So much for priests and bishops being called to serve their lord and being his can-do-no-wrong, representative on earth!!!

  • Honestly, I think the Roman Catholic Church should just shrivel up and die already. It’s done irraparable harm to too many people. The world would be a better place without it.

  • This is so sick. I honestly don’t know what the Church can do to remedy the situation. I do know that anyone who sends their kids to Catholic school and encourages them to be involved in the Church is committing a form of child abuse. I was never sexually abused but it has taken decades to get over the screwed up mental abuse inflicted on me from growing up Catholic. I cannot even imagine what the victims of physical abuse must have gone through.

  • “I do know that anyone who sends their kids to Catholic school and
    encourages them to be involved in the Church is committing a form of
    child abuse.”

    Since the rate of abuse is higher in public schools than in private Catholic schools, making sending kids to public school and encouraging them to be involved even greater child abuse, what are your recommendations?

    Home schooling?

  • You are correct. The Church cannot make amends to the lives lost at their hands. Concerned apologies are meaningless. They would be doing a favor to the human race by permanently closing the Vatican gates, and shutting down every single church around the world. They have caused that much suffering and done that much damage. Just imagine all the cases of sex abuse we don’t know about. Imagine the situation in other countries where the Church wields ultimate power over the people. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • Public school dies not have a higher rate of abuse. Kids kinds are not filled with effed up fantasies at public school,

  • Oh I am talking about all abuse. Combine the mental abuse with the physical not to mention teaching fantasy. No question though that sexual abuse is bad everywhere.

  • although I will say it is good at least that abusers in public schools get some justice. Catholic hierarchy hides priests away until statute of limitations runs out! The guys never see a jail cell

  • I think the church is sick in every respect: protecting abusers, a history of hatred (Jews, gays, non-Catholics, etc), a history of lying, scared of sex, etc.

  • Heck I live here in Denver and those teachers are being prosecuted as we speak!! Go suck on a trump dildo

  • It seems to me that Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg is making an important effort to bring his diocese out of the morass that the child sex abuse scandal has caused. He is taking steps, and at least one step I have not heard before.

    He has apologized for the diocese not taking the issue seriously in the past and acknowledged the suffering of victims of abuse. Both necessary but insufficient to address to provide justice and rebuild trust.

    He has released names, while the state courts are calling for keeping names hidden in the state report. He SAID he wanted to release names earlier but was prevented by the state investigation. If this is true then we need to applaud the willingness to cooperate with the civil legal systems.

    He says all future complaints will be reported to police. Is Pennsylvania a state with laws requiring mandatory reporting? will all Pennsylvania bishops promise the same? all U.S. bishops? I doubt it but he has made that promise.

    He has waived the confidentiality agreements a sex abuse survivor may have reached during settlement so that those who were abused can talk about their abuse. How many bishops have done that?

    He is going to remove the names of any priests accused of abuse from Church buildings and remove the names of all bishops since 1947 from any building. I really like this. I get it that it may be unfair to some who could be found to be not guilty or if there really was a bishop who was never made aware of any suspicious behavior or accusations of abuse. But, the ugliness of actual abuse and coverup is an institutional failure and those in charge during the time of failure have to pay a price. Maybe next time they won’t be so concerned about protecting each other and actually care about people abused by one of their own.

    A new beginning? I hope so.

  • That takes care of you and your friends at

    JoeMyGod and LGBTQ Nation, who so very much like to troll religious discussions and emote hatred.

    Any other hate groups you wish to wax eloquent on?

  • Huh? Not too bright are you? I don’t emote hatred at all. Pointing out the problems with Catholics and their theological practice and hatred is now lumped in as hatred? We truly are in a Trump 1984 world now 🙁

  • Atrocities committed by individuals, not the organization itself.

    There are no organizations that do not have bad eggs.

    Anything else?

  • Sorry…the Catholic church as an organization commits tons of atrocities! Maybe not here specifically where most in the church sought to hide the fact that people were abused but overall, the things the RCC does to fight against people’s rights (non-Catholics’ rights even!!!) is an atrocity. Don’t like gay marriage for Catholics? Fine, don’t change Catholic teaching, but don’t spend money in public deriding gays and fighting against their civil rights. Don’t like birth control pill? Fine, don’t let your members use it, but don’t spend resources to fight against other people’s right to have it and live their lives in peace with the RCC intruding. It is an obnoxious and atrocious organization.

  • Next time you ought to actually take the time to read the articles, lol!

    http://graphics.chicagotribune.com/chicago-public-schools-sexual-abuse/

    “Ineffective background checks exposed students to educators with criminal convictions and arrests for sex crimes against children. And CPS failed to disclose to other districts that past employees had resigned after investigators found credible evidence of abuse and harassment.”

    “A decade later, he was dismissed after he allegedly had sex multiple times with an 18-year-old female student, including in the office he used as a coach. Amendola denied the allegations.”

    “In 2009, the district hired Elliott Nott as a teacher despite a prior prowling charge and a “window peeping” conviction in New Hampshire and Illinois, one of them at the home of a little girl.”

    And so on.

    https://www.paulmones.com/sexual-abuse-in-public-schools

    “The practice is known as ‘passing the trash’. Instead of reporting the offending teacher to authorities, the teacher is moved to another school in the district without the parents or students in that new school being told about the teacher’s history. Paul Mones has the experience and knowledge to assist public school students and their parents redress the wrongs done to them by public schools and teachers as well as other staff.”

    https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/investigations/2018/05/13/child-abuse-schools-tennessee-department-childrens-services/586523002/

    “A 2017 case study funded by the Department of Justice states ‘only an estimated 5 percent of school employee sexual misconduct incidents known to school employees are reported to law enforcement or child welfare personnel.’”

    “The DCS data analyzed by the Network contains no record of December 2016 allegations involving a then-13-year-old girl at Stewart County Middle School in Dover, Tennessee.”

    “The girl said she was forcibly held down and groped by three male students in an empty classroom.”

    “The girl was able to break free and reported the allegation to a school counselor, who told her to return to class, according to a lawsuit filed by her parents. “

    “Once she did, one of the boys groped her again, the lawsuit states.”

    “In response to the lawsuit, the school district admitted a student reported the allegation to school officials. The district said it launched its own investigation, but there is no reference of reporting the allegations to DCS in the legal response.”

    https://www.denverpost.com/2018/06/15/how-colorado-educators-fail-to-report-sex-abuse-of-students-and-get-away-with-it/

    “More typical is what occurred when Colorado Springs police in 2011 discovered failures in mandatory reporting at the state-run Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. Detectives were called to investigate after a 15-year-old student confessed to a school employee that he had sexually assaulted five students in the previous three years.”

    “Police discovered the school’s staff members had been alerted by some of the victims and their parents of the alleged sexual abuse, but those reports hadn’t been forwarded to law enforcement, court records show. The shocked detectives also found significant confusion among school personnel about the mandatory reporting law. Several staffers said they hadn’t alerted police because they thought they had an obligation to keep confidential the names of students accused of sexual acts because they were juveniles.”

    “In the end, only the former principal, Louis Tutt, was charged with failure to report, but he never had to appear in court. His charges were dismissed because he had moved out of state.”

    https://www.catholicleague.org/sex-abuse-scandal-rocks-public-schools/

    “In four of the cases, school officials allowed teachers faced with disciplinary action to resign rather than face punishment. “As a result,” it said, “these teachers were able to truthfully inform prospective employers that they had never been fired from a teaching position and eventually were able to harm more children.” In three of these cases, administrators actually provided the predators with letters of recommendation.”

    “Why did school officials allow the offenders to skate? Money. It could cost up to $100,000 to fire a teacher, one administrator said, even with ‘a slam dunk case.’ That’s because the teachers’ unions will always defend the bottom of the barrel, no matter how morally destitute the teacher is. He can rape the kid in a closet and still walk.”

  • No, unfortunately for you and your over-the-top white sheet, hood, and burning cross approach as an organizaton the “RCC” does not commit atrocities let alone tons.

    The Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and every other organization in the country is free to support or oppose any legislation it chooses for whatever reason it wants.

    The source of that capacity is the First Amendment.

    Now, you’re also free to support or oppose any legislation you choose for non-faith reasons such as penile tumescence.

    I do get the drift of why you’re cranky.

  • Another “Not too bright are you?” and you’ll be blocked.

    If you have something intelligent to say, fine. If you want to vent, do it with someone else.

  • Don’t really understand how the system works huh? These people are being prosecuted. I think most priests sit comfy in Rome somewhere at a house for pedos or something…the church rarely offers them up for civil prosecution…

  • Good for them – and I have the right to call them what they are: hate groups. When you fight against people you are motivated by hate.

  • May I block now, or are you going to engage in an actual discussion?

    “Yes” or “no”?

  • That actually makes no sense. Me and “my friends” – whoever they are – are not a hate group. I do not fight against people’s existence.

  • So, you won’t making any intelligent posts to further discussion.

    I figured as much.

    OK, blocked.

  • I know what the Catholic church has fought against with regard to gay rights. I know you agree with the church on that but it is still hateful to those on the receiving end. A little empathy and you might see that! (That is typically not a Catholic trait).

  • I responded intelligently to your substantive comments. To your unintelligent posts I responded in kind. nice chatting…I know you won’t see this one 🙂

  • “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Roman 7:8)

    That is why no religions can be exempted from ALL manners of sinning according to the Scripture. No self righteousness can overcome the high places of the flesh. It is not man’s obedience that can.

    “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalt itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Corinthian 10:4-5)

    Notice all new translations turn around the means from obedience of Christ to men’s obedience!

  • None too bright, are you?

    None too bright are you?

    None too bright, are you?

    that’s three of them. Will you block me now?

  • Have you noticed that despite The Mouth of Bob’s threats to block you some hours ago, he hasn’t blocked you yet?

    That,s our bob.

  • BobWorld often doesn’t read his own citations. He was once explaining to me how my definition of atheism was simply wrong, and gave me three citations to prove it. Two of them agreed with me. When I pointed that out to him, he was all “you’re a big poopy head and I’m right anyway”, translated from the bobese, of course. It’s why I don’t bother to engage with him but rarely- that and of course his general aholery.

    Speaking of the Mouth of Bob, here he comes in 3…2…1.

  • Enough already!! Time to shut down said religion. Ditto for all other religions.

  • Forcing your own child to endure religious indoctrination is itself a severe form of abuse. It happened to me.

  • So, you’re suffering the after-effects of severe abuse.

    That would render your perceptions of religious “indoctrination” suspect.

  • The pressure on Catholic-indoctrinated children must be immense, if it stopped them telling anyone. Or was it more that many children did tell their parents who either didn’t believe them, or – owing to the delusions of their faith – regarded the soul of their child as more important than his/her physical body? For example
    Johnny: “Mommy, the priest touched me today in a place you said no-one should.”
    Mommy: “That’s alright, Johnny, he’s God’s representative on earth. He’s an exception to that rule. You’re going back there next Sunday, so be nice to him.”

    I’d like to know more about how this was allowed to continue for so long. It cannot be that it was just a cover-up by the church. Parental beliefs in the sanctity of the church must have played a role at least as large. Faith has a lot to answer for.

  • Well, if its latest change in doctrine results in the USA and other murderous states ending their practice of state-sanctioned killing known as capital punishment, that would be a start in making amends.

  • And what do you replace them with? Seriously. I’m an atheist who was brought up in evangelical Christian churches. I really miss the sense of community, and I’ve found nothing remotely like it. Now I live alone and it is a hole in my life.

    Suggestions, please.

  • You think so? How would you be able to tell? I could equally argue that my subjective viewpoint gives me an insight that children of non-religious parents don’t have. Plus, it’s simply an argument for not subjecting children to the extreme belief systems of their parents, and that a better way would be to give a child an open, more informed view of the world, so that they can gradually form their own views.

  • Either you have never been part of a religious community, or you had a bad experience in one. Sport? Competition and rivalry, very little care and love for each other. Voluntary work? That has many great aspects, but it can be lonely, unrewarding and depressing. Volunteers are not a lifelong community, committed to each other and to similar goals.

  • So you think that all children of parents who make them follow their religion are outliers? You are excluding the vast majority of the world’s population. My parents were far from extreme in their beliefs or practices, but my contention is that no parent should make their child follow a religion. That itself is abuse equal to at least some forms of sexual abuse.

  • You changed the subject.

    You began with:

    “Forcing your own child to endure religious indoctrination is itself a severe form of abuse.”

    Now you’re talking about:

    “children of parents who make them follow their religion”.

    It is normal for children to speak their parents’ language, follow their parents’ religion, associate with their parents’ family.

    It’s not abuse.

  • The two quotations are describing the same process. Parents have no right to decide a child’s religion, political affiliation or any other path, any more than they should mould a child’s sexual orientation or (as happened in the past) to make a left-handed child use its right hand. Children are in no position to challenge their parents’ indoctrination, so it behoves every parent to act responsibly and provide a child with the best education into the world they can manage. That means not dragging any child to a church, a mosque, a synagogue or any other “holy” place to worship a non-existent deity. It also means not telling a child that a specific political viewpoint is the only good one. To force a child into the mould of its parents is, yes, abuse. It results in lifelong emotional, social and many other problems. Catholic guilt. Islamic male oppression of the female. Hindu contempt for lower castes. The list is very long. A large part of the reasons behind the Catholic (and other religious) abuse of children was that the children felt too in awe of the priest to tell anyone about it – as did the parents who knew. That itself is an abuse of power by the religious cult.

    Of course, religious people and their organisations fight tooth and nail to preserve their “right” to inculcate their particular belief system into children. They know very well that, without such generational transfers of delusions, their religion would die out within a few decades. Thankfully, here in the UK as in Europe, most parents have little interest in religion, so we are seeing the process strike at the roots of organised faith. The USA is just a little behind, but it’s happening there too, happily for children and society as a whole.

  • If “The two quotations are describing the same process.” then you’re simply in error.

    Parents have every right to raise a child in particular religion, to favor a particular view, to advocate for a heterosexual orientation.

    By both the natural law and statutory law until majority children “ are in no position to challenge their parents’ ‘indoctrination’”.

    Obviously you can raise your children as you see fit, but calling parenting abuse is simply silly.

  • No, I disagree. Although in the past, it was accepted almost universally that parental rights trumped almost all other laws and the rights of their own offspring, that is changing swiftly and radically across the world. And not before time. What do you mean by “advocate for a heterosexual orientation”? Are you suggesting that a child’s sexual orientation is a choice, and that parents should be allowed to press the child to be heterosexual? If so, you are, again, wrong – and that is another form of abuse. Children need rights and they need to be protected from parents who abuse their own power to force a child into a particular path that suits such parents. Giving a child the best possible start in life means helping to open a child’s mind to possibilities, not closing it down into only one possible sexual orientation, gender, religion (or lack of), political affiliation etc. You are advocating for propaganda, not education. That is abusive, as much as incest or other sexual abuses.

    And this, naturally, means ending state support for religious schools of any kind.

  • It accepted almost universally that parental rights trump almost all other laws, that minors have few rights that can be asserted against parents, and that this is the case across the world. With some exceptions, which generally are not positive, this extends to the education of the child.

    “It is the natural duty of the parent to give his children education suitable to their station in life.” – Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923)

    “The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause has a substantive component that ‘provides heightened protection against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests,’ Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 720, including parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children, see, e. g., Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U. S. 645, 651. Pp.63-66.”

    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/530/57/

    In order for the state to override parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children it has to demonstrate actual abuse or harm, such as torture, failure to feed, or the like.

    The exceptions world-wide fall into two general classes.

    The first is authoritarian states such as North Korea, China, and the former Soviet Union where children are looked at as state property, and education involves indoctrination by the state into whatever the state dictates.

    The second are the socialist approaches which assert an imagined state right to indoctrinate children in some nebulous social and interactive processes aimed at some equally nebulous end.

    In the United States in particular the theories of John Dewey viewing the school itself is a social institution through which social reform can and should take place have been dominant.

    Practically this has led to union-dominated indoctrination, little parental input, and a gradual spiral of decreasing outcomes and standards.

    Since the parents’ fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children involve fundamental rights and liberty interests, attempts by states to eliminate home schooling and private schools have always run into fundamental constitutional issues.

    And this, naturally, means there is no basis for ending state support for religious schools.

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