Catholic bishop purges the names of his predecessors from church buildings for failing to protect children
On Wednesday, Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Catholic diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, ordered that the names of all previous Harrisburg bishops from the past seven decades be removed from church buildings and rooms, because they collectively failed to protect children from dozens of predators priests and other Catholic leaders. No other Catholic prelate has conducted such a blanket purge of his predecessors' legacies, The New York Times reports.
At the same time, Gainer released the names of 71 clergy and seminarians who've been credibly accused of sexual misconduct involving children dating back to 1947, apologized on behalf of the diocese and himself, waived any confidentiality agreements abuse survivors may have signed in legal settlements with the diocese, and released new guidelines for protecting children in the church.
Grainer said he wanted to release the list of accused predators earlier but was asked to wait until a state grand jury inquiry into abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic diocese, including Harrisburg, was complete. A spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who ordered the two-year investigation of Catholic sex abuse, said the Harrisburg diocese had pushed to end the grand jury investigation last year. The grand jury's findings, including allegations against more than 300 priests accused of sexual abuse dating back to 1947, will likely be released this month after the state Supreme Court gave the green light.
The Catholic Church is already reeling over the revelations that former Washington Archbishop Theodore McCormick, who resigned as a cardinal over the weekend after being sanctioned by Pope Francis, has been credibly accused of sexually abusing at least two boys decades ago. McCarrick, 88, faces a trial at the Vatican and has been barred from saying public Mass. Peter Weber
Pope Francis accepts resignation of 3 Chilean bishops, beginning purge in Chile's scandal-plagued church
On Monday, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of three Catholic bishops in Chile, including Juan Barros, whom the pope had elevated to bishop in 2015 over the objections of the local dioceses and the Vatican's sex abuse prevention advisers. Francis had defended Barros on a trip to Chile in January, later reading testimony detailing allegations that Barros had ignored evidence of sexual abuse; Francis then acknowledged his "grave errors in judgment" regarding Barros. Last month the pope summoned Chile's 31 active bishops to the Vatican, where all of them offered their resignation. The other two bishops whose resignations the pope accepted Monday were Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Puerto Montt Bishop Cristian Caro.
Barros had been a top lieutenant to Rev. Fernando Karadima, an abuser priest who the Vatican convicted of sex crimes in 2011. But Vatican sexual misconduct investigators Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu uncovered a much wider sex abuse scandal in Chile's Catholic church, including coverups by church hierarchy and abuse among religious orders. The findings by Bertomeu and Scicluna, which leaked while the Chilean bishops were in Rome, led Pope Francis to speak publicly of a "future of abuse and coverup" in the Catholic Church, a first for a pope, The Associated Press reports. Scicluna and Bertomeu are headed back to Chile on Tuesday to promote "healing" in Osorno, and the pope is expected to make more changes in Chile. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, a magistrate judge in Australia convicted Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson of covering up the sexual abuse of minors in the 1970s, a charge that carries up to two years in prison. Wilson, 67, was released on bail until his June 9 sentencing. He is the highest ranking Catholic official to be convicted of covering up sexual abuse anywhere in the world. Two former altar boys testified that they had told Wilson in the mid-1970s that Jim Fletcher, a priest arrested for pedophilia in 2004, had abused them, and Wilson had done nothing. Wilson, who pleaded not guilty, said he had no recollection of being told about Fletcher's abuse at the time.
Unlike Cardinal George Pell, Australia's senior-most Catholic prelate and the Vatican's finance chief, Wilson was not accused of abusing anybody. The allegations that he covered up the two cases of sexual abuse surfaced in 2010 — four years after Fletcher died of a stroke in prison, after being convicted of nine counts of child sexual abuse — and police charged Wilson in 2015. "The case against the archbishop was especially surprising, given his reputation for acknowledging and apologizing to the victims of pedophile priests," The New York Times reports. You can learn more and hear from the victims in the report below. Peter Weber
One of Australia's most senior Catholics is facing jail time after being found guilty of concealing child sexual abuse. Abp Philip Wilson failed to report allegations of abuse against another priest in the 1970s | @alexhart7#CARoyalComm #CSA #auslaw pic.twitter.com/kXYgRvf55J
— Lʏɴᴅꜱᴀʏ Fᴀʀʟᴏᴡ (@LyndsayFarlow) May 22, 2018