Survivor Hopes Clergy "Accept Responsibility" in Federal Probe of Priest Sex Abuse
By Steve Tawa
October 18, 2018
Word of the federal grand jury subpoenas issued to dioceses across Pennsylvania has spread quickly among those impacted by the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal.
Michael McDonnell, a survivor of sex abuse by two priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said up until now, victims and advocates have been blocked by "a systemic cover-up by the Roman Catholic Church."
"It's been extremely difficult to get them to accept responsibility and to be held accountable. It's a monumental occurrence," he said.
McDonnell alluded to the structure of the Catholic Church itself, wherein the upper hierarchy had served at one point of time or another in various dioceses across the commonwealth.
"No one knew more, and no one did less than these bishops, auxiliary bishops and archbishops," he added.
McDonnell was abused by two priests when between the ages of 11 and 13, dating back to 1981 and 1983.
He said it was part of the church's playbook to transfer priests even after their abuse cases were reported and acknowledged. One priest was transferred seven times between 1981 until he was defrocked in 2005, when a Philadelphia grand jury issued its scathing report.
"I can only imagine the number of victims that have occurred in between that time period," said McDonnell, who is mentioned on page 331 of the grand jury report.
McDonnell, a local leader of the nonprofit SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — noted the collusion factor will finally be front and center.
While the other case was "deemed not a credible occurrence by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," McDonnell hopes incidents like that will get a review.
"Things that happened to me, people would be put in handcuffs."