Catholic school scrubs bishops' names from campus buildings

August 21, 2018 - 12:57 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Roman Catholic university in Pennsylvania plans to remove the names of three bishops from campus buildings, saying it is acting in solidarity with victims of child sexual abuse following the release of a grand jury report accusing church leaders of helping cover up decades of abuse by priests.

The University of Scranton said late Monday that three bishops — Jerome D. Hannan, J. Carroll McCormick, and James C. Timlin — in the local diocese were found in last week's Pennsylvania grand jury report to have covered up crimes by priests and put children in harm's way.

Hannan served from 1954 until his death in 1965. McCormick served from 1966 until 1983 and died in 1996. Timlin served from 1984 until 2003 and is 91 years old.

A Scranton Diocese spokesman has said Timlin would not do interviews, but pointed to the diocese's response to the report noting that Timlin instituted a uniform response policy for allegations of abuse and established an internal review board.

The move is part of the growing fallout from a grand jury report that says a succession of church leaders helped cover up abuse by some 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania who victimized more than 1,000 children, and possibly many more, since the 1940s.

Pope Francis vowed Monday that "no effort must be spared" to root out sex abuse by priests and church cover-ups, but Francis gave no indication that he would sanction complicit bishops or end the Vatican culture of secrecy that has allowed the crisis to fester.

At various points in the report, it cites complaints about sexual misconduct by priests with children or teenagers that the three Scranton Diocese bishops did not act on, instead leaving the priests to continue in ministry.

Two weeks before the report was released, the Harrisburg Diocese said it would hold past church leadership accountable for the sexual abuse of children by priests and strip the names of bishops going back 70 years from church properties.

Dioceses in Pennsylvania have released lists, for the first time, of priests accused of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, Beaver County fired a county government lawyer after a report showed that, as district attorney in the 1960s, he stopped an investigation into alleged child abuse by a priest to gain political favor from the Pittsburgh Diocese.

In Allentown, City Council voted unanimously to fire the city solicitor based on the report's description of him, as the local diocese lawyer, in 2002 attempting to "undermine" and "discredit" a woman who had accused a priest of molesting her two decades earlier.

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