Altoona-johnstown Bishop Promises Reforms after Abuse Report
March 3, 2016
The bishop of a central Pennsylvania diocese has apologized and promised reforms after the state attorney general released a scathing report on clergy sex abuse of children and created a hotline seeking more accusations. Officials said the hotline has fielded more than 100 calls since Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Tuesday that two former bishops either covered up or didn't do enough to respond to hundreds of abuse allegations by more than 50 priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese from 1966 to 2011. Bishop Mark Bartchak called a news conference on Thursday to apologize and promise to reform the diocese's training and background check program and the review board that vets allegations of clergy abuse.
"I have been bishop for five years," Bartchak said. "During this time, we have re-examined allegations, removed clergy from ministry, reported allegations to civil authorities, and strengthened our training program. I am committed to doing even more to protect children." The bishop said he'll deliver a special message to parishioners this weekend and schedule special prayer services in the coming weeks.