Last year was especially devastating for the Catholic church, while it may have been wholly liberating for many of the church’s victims. In 2018, a shocking grand jury report offered the repugnant details of decades of child abuse that took place in dioceses across Pennsylvania. The church’s reaction, however, was anything but contrite. For advocates and many parishioners, the response was far from acceptable.
In many dioceses in Pennsylvania, and perhaps throughout the country, church attendance is declining. Some have walked away from the church altogether. Perhaps in fear of the church’s decline, some bishops have stepped forward to express remorse.
Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, for example, has vowed to eradicate the scourge of child sexual abuse from the church. He has further announced that his diocese will be voluntarily creating a compensation fund to pay settlements to victims of clergy sexual abuse. However, although the Bishop faces no accusations himself, it has been alleged that he played a role in relocating predatory priests from parish to parish in order to avoid scrutiny. So, for many, his claims of empathy ring hollow.
Many advocates believe that, despite the church’s recent attempts at proclaiming accountability, its preference would have been to sweep it all under the rug. Little has been done to hold bishops accountable, despite the fact that the Vatican approved a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of children by a member of the clergy after the Boston abuse scandal in 2002. More than 16 years later, there are still no mechanisms in place to punish the guilty or those who cover up abuse. Bishops still report directly to the Pope. Though U.S. Bishops were supposed to vote on new accountability policies in November, the Pope put off the effort until at least February, 2019.
Many advocates are skeptical of internal accountability efforts. They believe that greater external pressure is necessary, such as the investigation and report that was generated by the Illinois Attorney General recently detailing allegations against at least 500 priests the church had failed to disclose. The church will be forced to consider the fact that continued reluctance to make amends could result in a much deeper crisis.
If you or a loved one has experienced sexual assault that is in any way connected to the Catholic church, we can help. We know there may be a fear of being disbelieved, and of revealing something so deeply personal and tormenting. We offer empathic, compassionate representation; but also a fierce determination to hold the guilty accountable. We will build a strong case to recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your suffering.
Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Scranton clergy abuse lawyer at Williams Cedar by calling 215-557-0099 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide, including those in Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Johnstown, Eerie, Philadelphia, and Wilkes-Barre.