Allentown bishop addresses grand jury probe

The Morning Call

Steve Esack and Matt AssadContact Reporters
Of The Morning Call

Bishop: “The state attorney general’s office has subpoenaed our records on all possible abusers.”

A week after declining to address the question, Allentown Bishop John O. Barres acknowledged what his counterparts in five other Catholic episcopates already had: The diocese is being investigated by a statewide grand jury examining how church leaders handled decades of child sex abuse allegations.

In a letter to parishioners last weekend, Allentown Bishop John O. Barres confirmed that his diocese had been subpoenaed and is cooperating with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

“As your bishop, I wanted to let you know that the Diocese of Allentown is cooperating with a statewide investigation being conducted by the office of the state attorney general looking at how six Pennsylvania dioceses handled allegations of abuse,” Barres wrote in a letter delivered to parishioners during Saturday and Sunday Mass and printed in the diocese newspaper, the AD Times.

The letter reminded parishioners that Barres’ predecessor, Bishop Edward P. Cullen, in 2002 allowed prosecutors from the diocese’s five-county territory to review personnel files detailing old sex abuse allegations against 23 priests. Since then, Barres said, the diocese has notified the counties’ district attorneys of new abuse claims. Now, state authorities want records, he wrote.

“The state attorney general’s office has subpoenaed our records on all possible abusers, and we are in the process of turning over that material,” the letter states. “The Diocese of Allentown is committed to the protection and safety of the children and young people entrusted to its care. To this end, it is the policy of the Diocese of Allentown to cooperate with law enforcement. We will cooperate with the attorney general’s office just as we have cooperated with the district attorneys. Abuse of minors is a grave sin and crime.”

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.