Bishop Mark Bartchak of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in Pennsylvania is named the Vatican's highest court; SNAP reacts.
We are angered to learn Pope Francis appointed the Pennsylvania Bishop Mark Bartchak to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court. Making matters worse is the fact that when the appointment was announced, the media failed to mention Bartchak's role described in the scathing 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report and we feel that Bishop Bartchak's role in the cover-up of abuse should disqualify him from this position of honor.
According to the Tribune-Democrat, a newspaper serving the Johnstown, Pennsylvania area, Bartchak, a Monsignor in 2005, led an investigation involving a male victim who had disclosed his abuse to the diocese initially in 1982. The grand jury report stated that Bartchak consulted with Erie Bishop Donald Trautman to explain 'that there are likely to be other victims,' Bartchak said. To us, the most disturbing part of Bartchak's memo to Trautman is the posing of a question, 'but to what end is it necessary to follow every lead?' To anyone who cares about children and doing the right thing, the answer to that question is obvious.
It is clear to us Bishop Bartchak, a canon lawyer who worked his way up through the ranks in the Erie diocese and eventually Bishop of Altoona, was part of the cover-up and could have made a difference for many other victims. Not once did Bartchak suggest that secular authorities should be contacted and instead Bartchak followed the orders of Bishop Trautman. We know the systemic problem of abuse was in the cover-up. We didn't know that it would still be rewarded with appointments to higher offices within the Catholic church.
CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267.261.0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517.974.9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board Member and Altoona Johnstown Leader, 814-341-8386, [email protected])