Two years on, grand jury’s impact on diocese lingers

Reading Eagle from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

August 15, 2020

By Peter Smith

[This is a substantially different version of an article previously blogged in Abuse Tracker.]

Two years after a landmark grand jury report told a sordid history of sexual abuse by priests and its cover-up by their superiors, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is still coming to terms with its impact.

Just this week, 28 people filed lawsuits or notices of intent to sue in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, while a local lay group issued a report sharply critical of the diocese’s response, which it said is marked by “clericalism” and a bunker mentality.

Bishop David Zubik said Friday he marked the somber anniversary with prayers at Mass for the survivors of abuse. He said he believed the diocese has taken important steps in responding to the report, even as it undergoes a vast program of parish mergers and responds to unanticipated challenges such as the pandemic.

“Over the course of the two years, we’ve worked very hard to be ever more present to victim/survivors and acknowledge their need for healing,” he said.

On Aug. 14, 2018, a statewide grand jury issued a report into sexual abuse and cover-up spanning seven decades in six of Pennsylvania’s dioceses, including Pittsburgh’s. The report made headlines worldwide and, combined with scandals elsewhere during what one Catholic journal called a “summer of shame,” triggered the most intensive wave of scrutiny in years over the scandal.

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