Pa. Supreme Court: Names of Catholic clergy will remain shielded

Philadelphia Inquirer

December 3, 2018

By Angela Couloumbis and Liz Navratil

As the Catholic Church undergoes a national reckoning for its handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday ruled it would not release the identities of 11 clerics implicated in a high-profile grand jury investigation of such abuse in nearly every diocese in the state.

In its majority opinion, the high court sided with a group of former and current clergy who claimed that passages in a state grand jury report, released earlier this year, are either inaccurate or unfairly harm their reputations.

The report, the result of a two-year investigation by the state Attorney General’s office, chronicled seven decades worth of abuse in six out of the state’s eight dioceses. Its public release this past August sparked a wave of similar state and federal investigations across the country as well as the resignation of one of the nation’s top Catholic leaders.

“We acknowledge that this outcome may be unsatisfying to the public and to the victims of the abuse detailed in the report,” wrote Justice Debra Todd, who authored the majority opinion. “While we understand and empathize with these perspectives, constitutional rights are of the highest order, and even alleged sexual abusers, or those abetting them, are guaranteed by our Commonwealth’s Constitution the rights of due process.”

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