Greensburg Catholic Diocese apologizes for past mistakes in a new report

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By Steve Pope | August 10, 2018

The Diocese in a 17-page report released Wednesday, said “Admittedly, there have been occasions where the Church and the Diocese of Greensburg have faltered in their protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults, and for those the Diocese of Greensburg apologizes to the survivors and their families.”

A redacted version of a statewide grand jury report that is said to contain between 800 to 1000 pages, that is critical of the the way the Cahtolic Church has responded to allegations of child abuse, is expected to be released sometime next week.

In public statements, the Diocese of Greensburg has pledged to make public the names of clergy who have been accused in the past of abusing children, after the report is released.

The Diocese has pledged in the report to remove clergy members accused of abuse saying, “In accordance with Diocesan policy, as soon as the Diocese is made aware of the allegation and it is determined to be credible, the person is removed from his or her place of ministry.  If the allegation is substantiated, the individual is permanently removed from active ministry.”

According to the report the Greensburg Diocese, starting in 1985, has had an increasingly tighter policy of responding to abuse allegations.

In April 1985, the Diocese established their first written policy on Clergy Sexual Misconduct.  That initial policy expressly stated that the “hurting individuals/families…are of primary concern.”

In addition, it further said, “upon the receipt of a credible allegation, the priest was to be “relieved of his duties at the assignment” pending further investigation and evaluation.”

In September 1994, a new policy established a Bishop’s Delegate, who was placed “in charge of all investigations in regard to clergy sexual misconduct and subsequent interventions.”

At the conclusion of the investigation the Bishop’s Delegate would “prepare the materials for presentation and recommendations” to the newly-established Clergy Sexual Misconduct Review Board. The Review Board consisted of one priest and five independent laypeople.”

In 2002, a Diocesan Review Board was created to replace the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Review Board. The Board’s purpose was to oversee any internal investigations by the church and issue a report and recommendation to the Bishop.

In September 2012, the Diocese promulgated the “Code of Pastoral Conduct,” which applies to “all bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay members of the faithful — including all employees and volunteers — who assist in providing pastoral care in the Diocese of Greensburg, including its parishes, schools, programs and other Diocesan entities.”

“The “Code of Pastoral Conduct” provides “a new level of protection” by including vulnerable adults and defining  boundaries that must be maintained by adults who are in contact with minors or vulnerable adults in Church settings.

A  “zero tolerance” policy is in place, which was adopted in 2002 and “requires that any cleric credibly accused of abusing a child is to be immediately removed from his place of ministry pending a complete and independent investigation.”

In the event allegations of abuse are sustained, the accused priest is prohibited from ever being assigned to a church.

The diocese said in the report that in 2002, it reviewed personnel files of every priest who had served since the diocese was formed in 1951. The review found indications of possible improper conduct on the part of some priests dating back to the 1960s.

For the past 15 years mandatory background checks have been conducted of all clergy, lay staff and volunteers.

After the grand jury report is released the Diocese said it plans to release its own report.

Steve Pope can be contacted at steve.pope@grantstreetnews.com

 

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