Catholic Diocese's Bold Move: Releasing and Erasing Names

71 people accused of child sex abuse in Harrisburg diocese named Wednesday
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2018 12:40 PM CDT
Catholic Diocese's Bold Move: Releasing and Erasing Names
Catholic pews are shown in this stock photo.   (Getty Images/herlordship)

A Pennsylvania bishop made a bold move on Wednesday: He released the names of 71 people who PennLive reports have been "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children since 1947 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, which covers much of central Pennsylvania. But Bishop Ronald Gainer is also taking some names away. In what PennLive calls "an unprecedented and stunning" announcement, he said all the diocesan bishops who served since that time will have their names wiped from "any place of honor," whether that be as large as a diocesan building or as small as a room. He acknowledged his decision may be a controversial one, but said he "strongly believe[s] that leaders of the diocese must hold themselves to a higher standard and must yield honorary symbols in the interest of healing." More:

  • In a letter accompanying the release of the list, Gainer writes that he made the perhaps "atypical" choice to include the names of people who were posthumously accused, and therefore had no opportunity to defend themselves. "I still felt compelled to release their names in an effort to confirm for those brave survivors who have come forward, and those who still have not, that we have heard their cries and taken them seriously."
  • The York Daily Record reports the list of names is divided into three groups: Those accused while living, while dead, and while in another diocese. The accusations are further grouped by type of allegation, including indecent behavior, inappropriate behavior such as kissing, child pornography, and inappropriate communications. Of the 71, 37 were priests with the diocese; the rest included deacons, seminarians, priests from outside dioceses, and people from other religious communities.
  • WHTM reports the diocesan bishops in place since 1947 who will have their names removed are George Leech, Joseph Daley, William Henry Keeler, Nicholas Dattilo, Kevin Rhoades, and Joseph McFadden.
  • The release of the names comes days after the state Supreme Court said a nearly 900-page grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in six dioceses, including Harrisburg, will be released by mid-month. The AP reports Harrisburg is the second diocese to "get ahead" of that report, with the Erie Diocese having released a list of about 50 names in April.
(More Catholic Church sex scandals stories.)

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