Bishop releases list of 71 Catholic priests and church personnel accused of sex abuse

PHOTO: Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.PlayGoogle Maps
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A bishop in Pennsylvania has released the names of 71 priests and church personnel who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse dating back to the 1940s.

Bishop Ronald William Gainer said during a press conference Wednesday morning that the list details "some very sad moments in our history." Gainer said the list, which was released to reporters, will also be published online by the diocese.

"Many of those victimized as children continue as survivors to suffer from the harm they have experienced. In my own name and in the name of the diocese, I express profound sorrow and I apologize to the survivors of child sex abuse, the Catholic faithful, and to the general public," Gainer said during the press conference.

Gainer said that the diocese intended to release the list sooner, but was urged by the Pennsylvania attorney general to wait "in order to protect its then-ongoing investigation." Now that the investigation has ended, the diocese decided to release the list, he said.

All of the people named on the list -- some of whom have died -- have faced allegations relating to victims who were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged abuse, Gainer said. In addition to publicly releasing those names, Gainer also waived any confidentiality agreements that the diocese had previously implemented as part of settlement agreements with victims of alleged sexual abuse.

PHOTO: Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.Google Maps
Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Gainer said that the diocese had not been enforcing the confidentiality provisions in recent years, adding that "on behalf of the diocese, I waive any remaining confidentiality rights the diocese has in those confidentiality provisions while retaining all other rights" in those cases.

Gainer said waiving the confidentiality clauses means that "the survivors can feel free to tell their stories to whomever and whenever they wish."

"I hope that this step will further aid those survivors and perhaps others in their path to healing," Gainer said during the news conference Wednesday.

One symbolic gesture that Gainer announced Wednesday was that the diocese would remove the names of anyone on the list from its buildings or facilities.

"Leaders of the diocese must hold themselves to a higher standard and must yield honorary symbols in the interest of healing," he added.

PHOTO: Bishop Ronald William Gainer at The Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Penn. LNP/LancasterOnline/LO
Bishop Ronald William Gainer at The Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Penn.

The investigation found that bishops did not do enough to address alleged abuse, which is why their names should be removed from church buildings, Gainer said.

"As a result of a careful review of historical cases, it was also clear that the leadership of the church did not, in every case, take adequate measures while handling matters relating to offending clerics," Gainer said.

One bishop, Philip McDevitt, will not have his name removed from a local school because his tenure ended 12 years before the earliest point in the abuse investigation, which dates back to 1947, Gainer said.

Gainer's announcement comes not long after a high-ranking cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, resigned from a prestigious group in the Vatican in light of allegations of sexual abuse. McCarrick has denied wrongdoing.

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