Pa. Senate fails sex abuse victims

Philadelphia Tribune
October 21, 2018

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

Subpoenas were served last week demanding confidential files and testimony from church leaders, according to the Associated Press.

The subpoenas follow a recent state grand jury report that found that 301 “predator priests” in Pennsylvania had molested more than 1,000 children over seven decades and that church leaders had covered up for the offenders.

“Now federal prosecutors are bringing the Justice Department’s considerable resources to bear, according to two people who were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly,” reports The Associated Press.

“It’s groundbreaking if we’re going to see one of the U.S. attorneys pursuing the Catholic cases,” said Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and chief executive of Child USA, a nonprofit think tank focused on preventing child abuse. “The federal government has so far been utterly silent on the Catholic cases.”

At press time, four of the state’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses — Philadelphia, Erie, Allentown and Harrisburg — acknowledged receiving subpoenas and said they would cooperate or were working with Justice Department officials.

While there is no indication the Justice Department is planning an investigation of clergy abuse nationwide there is clear evidence that this is a national even worldwide problem.

Other recent incidents of Catholic Church of sexual scandals include:

• Catholic bishops have launched investigations into sexual misconduct in seminaries in Boston and Nebraska.

• The former archbishop of Washington resigned from the College of Cardinals after accusations that he molested seminarians and an altar boy.

• A Catholic bishop in Australia was convicted by a civil court of covering up abuse and the Vatican has accepted the resignations of six bishops from Latin America after church investigations.

• An Associated Press investigation found evidence that priests and bishops around the world have abused Catholic nuns and sisters for decades.

The new report shows that the church is not doing anywhere near enough to address these horrific crimes after the Catholic sexual abuse scandal that came to light in 2002 after The Boston Globe’s investigation into priest abuse.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain of Philadelphia issued the Pennsylvania subpoenas. The grand jury subpoenas seek to find out if priests, bishops, seminarians or others committed any federal crimes.

It demanded the bishops turn over any evidence that anyone in their ranks took children across state lines for illicit purposes; sent sexual images or messages via phone or computer; instructed anyone not to contact police; reassigned suspected predators; or used money or other assets as part of the scandal.

The grand jury subpoenas also seek documents stored in “Secret Archives,” ‘’Historical Archives” or “Confidential Files,” and records related to the dioceses’ organizational charts, finances, insurance coverage, clergy assignments and treatment of priests.

During the same week the Justice Department took courageous action Pennsylvania Republican senators acted cowardly by not taking action on a bill that sought to allows survivors of clergy abuse to sue the church.

The senators argued that victims should only be allowed to sue the clergy who attacked them but not the Catholic Church or other institutions that covered up the crimes.

The senators failed to take action after a nearly 900-page Pennsylvania grand jury report issued over the summer by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro which found that church leaders had engaged in a systematic cover-up by shuffling accused priests around to different parishes and in some cases working to prevent police investigations. Because of the statute of limitations, however, only two priests were charged as a result of the investigation. .

The Catholic Church itself has to be held accountable for the cover-ups and failure to act.


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