OF PITTSBURGH PA
Accused Priests: 51 (of which 6 "were formally determined to have been falsely accused," and another 6 were dead at the time the allegations were made)
Total Priests: 2,280 (of which 1,284 diocesan , 442 externs, 94 order priests in parishes, and 460 order priests studying or serving in the diocese)
Persons Making Allegations: 95
Assistance and Settlements to Victims: $2,041,000
Sources of Funds: $841,000 from the diocesan insurance program, and $1,200,000 directly from diocesan insurance coverage
Statement from Bishop Donald Wuerl on Release of John Jay Report
February 26, 2004
As you know, the bishops of the United States have been fully engaged in addressing the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse of minors. In doing so we have had certain major concerns: to reach out to past victims of abuse, to make as certain as humanly possible that no child will suffer abuse from Church personnel and to assure all the faithful that the clergy who serve them are men of faith and integrity.
In the words of the Holy Father, "There is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young." One such case of abuse is one too many. We will continue to reach out to any victims of abuse, encouraging any of those hurt in this way to seek healing and reconciliation through counseling, treatment and prayer.
The John Jay Study and the national audit on diocesan compliance to the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People were undertaken because the bishops of the United States requested them. Though we know that the John Jay Study is unique and that there is no study to compare it with from any other group in the country, we requested this study to make certain that this terrible tragedy does not happen again.
The John Jay Study presents a picture, a statistical snapshot, of the nature and scope of clergy sexual misconduct that includes nationwide statistics on perpetrators and victims between1950 and 2002. According to early reports, the study will show that approximately four percent of the total priests and deacons serving in Catholic dioceses across the country during that period were accused of sexual misconduct with minors.There were a reported 11,000 victims over that five-decade period.
I want to share with you the results of our own investigation as reported to the John Jay Study. Over the five decades of the study, 2,349 priests and deacons served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. This includes 1,284 Pittsburgh diocesan priests, 442 priests from other dioceses studying or serving in Pittsburgh, 94 religious order priests serving directly in diocesan pastoral ministry, 460 religious order priests studying or serving within the Diocese, and 69 deacons.
Of these priests and deacons, diocesan records show that 95 victims accused 51 clergy over five decades. Of those 51, six clergy were formally determined to have been falsely accused. An additional six of the 51 clerics were deceased at the time the accusations were reported to diocesan authorities. But they have been included in the overall report.
Of those clergy accused in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, 90 percent were accused of incidents of abuse between 1950 and 1989. Six clergy were accused in the 1990s. There have been no accusations of incidents by clergy taking place since 1997.
The 45 clergy with accusations against them represent 1.9 percent of the priests and deacons who have served or been in residence in the Diocese of Pittsburgh over the past five decades. Those 45 clergy have either died, been removed from active priestly ministry, or withdrew from priestly ministry.
Additionally, I want you to know that the diocese has provided assistance to victims in the amount of $841,000 from the diocesan insurance program over the five decades of the study. An additional $1.2 million was provided directly by diocesan insurance coverage for such assistance over five decades. None of this money went to "cover up" an allegation. These were settlements or assistance involving already-public allegations.
I want to stress that no funds were taken from individual parishes, the diocesan Parish Share Program, or general diocesan operations for clergy sexual misconduct accusations.
As I have from the very beginning, let me assure you once again that the clergy serving in the Diocese of Pittsburgh today are men of integrity. At the same time, I also remain convinced that the Church in the United States has been served over the decades by an overwhelming majority of good, hardworking, faithful and holy priests.
I can also assure you that throughout this period the Church and her leadership has acted responsibly. Mistakes were surely made, particularly in the past. Some priests were reassigned when they never should been allowed to return to active ministry. Yet, this was not done out of malicious intent. Some bishops were responding as well as they could to their understanding at the time. Their more limited understanding of the psychology of the sexual abuser of minors and of the impact of such abuse on a young person led to tragic errors in judgment.
However, since the late 1980s, with greater understanding that the sexual abuse of a minor is far more than a moral lapse, but a psychological compulsion as well as criminal behavior, the bishops of the United States have worked in concert to bring an end to this tragedy. The bishops’ 1992-1993 document "Restoring Trust" set the framework for the programs and policies that over the last decade have virtually eliminated the incidences of clergy sexual misconduct with minors. The 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People established the fundamental principles that the abuse of a minor terminates a priest’s ministry, and that no bishop in the United States can leave that action to his own discretion.
The clergy sexual abuse scandal was about a small number of priests abusing young people; and the fact that a few of those priests were reassigned by their bishops, and tragically committed the crime again. The response of the Church over more than a decade has been public, direct and effective. No other institution in American society can claim to have done what the Church has done to address the tragedy of the sexual abuse of minors.
The Church will move forward, as it has for 2,000 years. We make public this report—national and local—at a very providential moment as we prepare for our annual observance of Lent, a time of spiritual renewal and reconciliation. During the Lenten season we are very aware that, as followers of Christ, we live in the shadow of the Cross, but in hope of Easter morning. What Jesus taught us was that pain, suffering, and the very Cross itself are all meant to bring us to redemption—to salvation—to resurrection.
We are a people of faith. It is in hope that we live.
The diocese reported it had paid $841,000 from its own diocesan insurance fund to assist victims during that time, and an additional $1.2 million was paid by the diocese's insurance carriers. All the money went toward paying legal settlements, counseling and other things, though the diocese didn't specify exact amounts for specific categories.
"We will continue to reach out to any victims of abuse, encouraging any of those hurt in this way to seek healing and reconciliation through counseling, treatment and prayer," Bishop Donald Wuerl said.
In Philadelphia, allegations against 44 priests between 1950 and 2003 were found to be credible _ 2 percent of the 2,204 priests that served during that time, the archdiocese said.
Cardinal Justin Rigali said the archdiocese is now providing 41 sex abuse victims with counseling, which the church has spent an average of $125,000 on between 1994 and 2003.
"With profound sorrow, I offer deep apologies to the victims of sexual abuse by any cleric or church employee," Rigali said in a written statement.
Richard Serbin, an attorney representing abuse victims, said the numbers mean very little.
"I don't look at shear numbers because I'm dealing with people and from their perspective their lives have been tragically altered by the sexual abuse they've suffered as children," he said. He encouraged the dioceses to not only release numbers, but names of priests who have been accused.
The dioceses released the numbers in anticipation of a report due Friday by the New York-based John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which was commissioned by the National Review Board. The lay panel was picked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops to review allegations of priest sex abuse of minors, and the report will have abuse statistics from the 195 U.S. dioceses.
"Though we know that the John Jay Study is unique and that there is no study to compare it with from any other group in the country, we requested this study to make certain that this terrible tragedy will not happen again," Wuerl said in a statement.
Serbin, who has cases pending against the Pittsburgh, Altoona-Johnstown, Allentown and Philadelphia dioceses, said he believes the numbers don't tell the whole story. Most pedophiles don't just molest one child, but have a pattern of abuse and many victims, he said.
"The very people that have hid the scope and depth of this problem for decades are the ones that are producing the numbers," Serbin said.
In Pittsburgh, the diocese reported 95 people had accused the priests of abuse over the past five decades; Serbin believes those numbers are inaccurate because most victims don't come forward.
The diocese of Pittsburgh consists of 816,000 Roman Catholics in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties. The Philadelphia archdiocese is made up of 1.4 million Catholics in Philadelphia and Delaware, Chester, Bucks and Montgomery counties.
All eight dioceses in Pennsylvania have released or are planning to release their statistics that are included in the John Jay report. The diocese of Allentown, Altoona-Johnstown, Greensburg and Harrisburg have already released their reports; the Erie and Scranton dioceses have said they will release theirs Friday in conjunction with the release of the national report.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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