Horror Show Sunday: At It Again In Pennsylvania

I know this ought to come as no surprise, especially to long-time readers of the Religious Horror Show, but the Catholic Church has been caught yet again covering up sex abuse by pedophile priests.  You don’t say!  This time, two Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania helped to cover up hundreds of molestations by more than 50 priests over more than 40 years, according to a grand jury report.

A 147-page document was released detailing sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, with evidence uncovered by Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane.  “These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe,” Kane said. “Just as troubling is the cover-up perpetrated by clergy leaders that allowed this abuse to continue for decades.”

Unfortunately, no charges were filed because the two bishops in question, James Hogan, who served from 1966 to 1986, died in 2005 and Joseph Adamec retired in 2011.  Adamec had required offending priests to undergo psychiatric evaluation and those who refused were removed from the ministry.  Still, he never turned these priests over to authorities for prosecution, but neither was he required to by law at the time the offenses occurred.

Even current bishop, Mark Bartchak, has raised some doubts.  While he has certainly purged a few pedophiles from the Catholic ranks, the grand jury reported that they were “concerned the purge of predators is taking too long”.  What needs to happen is that as soon as a potential pedophile case comes to the attention of the Catholic clergy, they need to evaluate the case and if any evidence whatsoever suggests that his is a legitimate case, it needs to be turned over to the authorities for investigation.  I can perhaps see sending priests for counseling if, and only if, nothing has actually happened, but the second they cross the line, they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

But that’s not how it happens.  The grand jury heard testimony by Monsignor Philip Saylor that the archdiocese was so powerful that “the police and civil authorities would often defer to the diocese” in cases of priestly abuse.  That’s not how this is supposed to work.  And with nearly $4 billion in payouts in American Catholic sex abuse cases since the 50s, clearly the church isn’t serious about stopping its pedophile problem.  That’s why they spend so much time on Horror Show Sunday.

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