PITTSBURGH – The bishop of Pittsburgh’s Roman Catholic diocese said on Saturday he will release the names of the members of its clergy who are accused in a member state of the grand jury report of sexual misconduct with a minor.
In a letter read at all Masses this weekend, Bishop David Zubik said he is in the public domain with the names of as soon as the grand jury report has been released. His announcement came days after the Harrisburg Diocese established 71 priests and the other members of the church who were accused of sexual abuse of children.
The state Supreme Court revealed recently that the grand jury had identified more than 300 “predator priests” in the six dioceses that were examined: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Together, that dioceses minister of more than 1.7 million Catholics.
Previous studies found widespread sexual abuse by priests in the state of the other two dioceses: Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown.
The release of the nearly 900-page report is held by challenges by some of the priests and ex-priests. The court ruled that a version with a number of names a black-out can be made public within a few days. The Erie Diocese released its own findings on the abuse of priests in April.
Zubik, the bishop for 11 years, the ” grand jury report “a sad and tragic description of the events that occurred within the Church” and said that his diocese has not tried to block it.
In releasing the names, Zubik said: “It is my hope that this is a further strengthening of the confidence that you, the faithful in our diocese and in the ministry of priests and deacons.”
He said that he has met frequently with victims of sexual abuse and their families and a “witness of the lasting damage that abuse has caused in their lives.” He said that he and the diocese staff remain “for the support of their emotional and spiritual care to repair the damage they have suffered.”
The bishop noted that the grand jury investigation spanned 70 years. But he said almost all of the reported incidents of abuse in the Pittsburgh diocese occurred before 1990.
“For more than 30 years,” he said, “the Diocese of Pittsburgh has a policy in place to respond quickly and compassionately as victims of abuse have come forward.”
He said such “strict policies”, such as training programs and background checks to be used for someone who is in the service of the church or who are looking to volunteer in a parish or a school.
“These steps have made a difference and continue to do so,” he said.
Zubic said that he is concerned that parishioners ‘faith may be tested by the grand jury’s findings and asked them: “stay close to God in prayer” and to pray for “the vast majority of the priests and deacons, who bear the shame and the pain of the worst deeds of their colleagues.”