Pennsylvania University Revokes Honors Of ‘Predator Priests’
The University of Scranton revoked the honors given to three Bishops who were included in the report by Pennsylvania grand jury on sexual abuse by "predator priests." In this image: St. Joseph Catholic Church is seen in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Aug. 16, 2018. Reuters/Carlos Barria

Following the release of a report by the Pennsylvania grand jury on sex abuse by “predator priests,” the University of Scranton has decided to change the names of three campus buildings that honored three bishops accused of covering up child abuse incidents.

Honorary degrees which were awarded to the priests will also be revoked.

The grand jury report, which detailed child abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and efforts by religious leaders to cover it up, was released early August. The report implicated bishops James C. Timlin, J. Carroll McCormick and Jerome D. Hannan of the Diocese of Scranton for covering up sexual abuse against children.

The University authorities were considering how to best respond to the “deeply disturbing report and to past honors and recognition it has bestowed upon individuals named in it.” On Monday, Scott R. Pilarz, the university’s president, consulted with faculty, administrators, alumni and student leaders on the proper course of action that needed to be taken.

The board met in a special session and unanimously approved the renaming of the buildings.

“With sympathy for and in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Scranton, the University of Scranton will rescind honorary degrees and rename campus buildings recognizing Bishops Jerome D. Hannan, J. Carroll McCormick and James C. Timlin,” Pilarz said. “As documented in the report, these bishops covered up the crimes and misdeeds of men who were under their jurisdiction and placed children in harm’s way.”

According to a letter written by Pilarz, McCormick Hall will be renamed MacKillop Hall in honor of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop. MacKillop is an Australian nun who exposed the sexual abuse of children by a priest. She founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. She was the first person to be named saint from Australia, and was named Sr. Mary by Pope Benedict XVI.

The name on Timlin House will be removed. The complex in which the building is located will be renamed to Romero Plaza in honor of the late Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, from Mulberry Plaza. While the Hannan Hall will be renamed to Giblin-Kelly Hall in remembrance and honor of late Brendan J. Giblin, who died in 2006, and William H. Kelly Jr, who died in 1993. Both were former students of the university.

“In choosing to honor St. MacKillop, Archbishop Romero, Brendan and Bill, we hold up the example of their lives as a reminder always to be a voice against abuse and violence no matter the cost, to champion the poor and oppressed, and to treasure the bonds of friendship and community that are at the heart of The University of Scranton,” Pilarz said. “The University of Scranton will strive together with the people of the Diocese and Catholics everywhere to address the difficult but necessary questions that arise from the grand jury report.”

The grand jury report identified 300 “predator priests” who allegedly molested over 1,000 children in Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses.