Pennsylvania Bishop Publishes List Of 71 Alleged Sex Abusers
A Pennsylvania bishop published the list of 71 alleged sex abusers, and waives off church’s confidentiality rights. In this image, a woman holds rosary beads while she prays and waits for smoke to emanate from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel which will indicate whether or not the College of Cardinals have elected a new Pope, in Vatican City, March 13, 2013. Getty Images/Dan Kitwood

The bishop of a Roman Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania on Wednesday announced that the church has waived all confidentiality rights of the diocese over incidents of child abuse and released the names of 71 members accused of the same.

Weeks after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the release of names of more than 300 “predator priests” who were accused of sexual abuse, Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer made the announcement and apologized to all victims, members and followers of the church and the community while expressing his “profound sorrow” over the incident.

The diocese, along with other five in Pennsylvania, was under a major grand jury investigation regarding clergy sexual abuse. Earlier in April, the Erie Diocese in Pennsylvania released their findings on abuse by Catholic clergy, making Harrisburg the second to do so.

The 900-page report from the investigation, which was the largest state-led inquiry conducted into such an incident, will be made public soon with some names blacked out, the Supreme Court said.

The Harrisburg Bishop said the list of names was prepared based on investigations the church conducted of incidents dating back to 1947. He added that the buildings, halls, rooms and all other church properties and places of honor named after anyone whose name was on the list will be removed as well.

“The Diocese has unfortunately, at times, been the home of men originally called to the service of God who, for reasons unknown and unfathomable, instead ignored that summons and turned to the pursuit of heinous personal ends. That conduct has left a legacy of pain and sorrow that is still being felt” the bishop said. “Many of those victimized as children continue to suffer as survivors from the harm they experienced.”

He made it clear that the list comprised of men who were “accused” of child sexual abuse and not every man who was accused was added to the list as well. “We continue in our sincere request that survivors come forward so that their situations can be addressed.”

The list, which is available on the diocese website, included 37 priests, three deacons and six seminarians from the diocese, nine clergy members from other dioceses and 16 from religious communities for conducts such as indecent behavior, inappropriate behavior such as kissing and inappropriate communication with children.

The bishop agreed that the church was also at fault for not taking adequate measures. The leadership of the church did not, in every case, take adequate steps while handling matters relating to offenses by clerics, the bishop said.

“On reviewing its historical files, and the diocese learned that, prior to the year 2002, the diocese, from time to time, entered into settlement agreements with survivors of child sexual abuse,” the bishop said adding that some of those settlements contained confidentiality provisions. “On behalf of the dioceses I waive any remaining confidentiality rights the diocese has in those confidentiality provisions, while retaining all other rights the dioceses have under the agreements.”

He said this was done so that survivors could “feel free to tell their stories to whomever and whenever they wish.” The number and dollar value of such settlements were not disclosed.

The bishop also noted that the church will adopt new policies while dealing with complaints. Any accusation against any member of the diocese will be immediately forwarded to local authorities, he said.

“We are and have been committed to honesty, transparency and to ensuring the safety of our children," the bishop said.

He also ensured that any new employee associated with the diocese will have to undergo background checks and those with a record of abuse will be ineligible for hire or for volunteering. The church will also conduct child abuse awareness programs for children.