Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown diocese is making a small step forward

For immediate release Monday, March 6, 2017

Statement by Judy Jones, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 974 5003,[email protected])

We are grateful that Bishop Mark Bartchak of the Altoona-Johnstown diocese is making changes. We agree with him the “one case of abuse is too many.” This is a small step forward but the grand jury report came out over a year ago and we are still only seeing words and promises we are not seeing any actions that make children safer today than they were a year ago.   

Last year SNAP recommended that Bishop Mark L. Bartchak fire Father John Byrnes, who was singled out in the grand jury report, as well as every member of the Allegation Review Board. 

Byrnes took the Fifth when summoned before the grand jury and refused to answer its questions. 

 The group also pointed out that the grand jury report identified more than 50 priests and religious leaders who had sexually abused children in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. 

Last year the bishop pledged to post the names on the diocesan website. 

However, while a list has been posted, SNAP noted that it contained only 28 names, and no other information helpful to victims and to the public, such as photos, work histories, and current locations.

We ask that people judge the success of this plan by its actions and not by the words. Actions protect kids not words.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is )

Judy Jones ( 636-433-2511[email protected]), John.Nesbella (814 243-5213,[email protected] ), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003[email protected] )  

Showing 1 comment

  • John Nesbella
    commented 2017-03-07 09:34:42 -0600
    A baby step forward and lots of smoke and mirrors.
    What is Bartchak going to do about the hundreds perhaps thousands of victims-the result of the last fifty years of clerical sexual abuse? I guess it’s just too bad for them. He and this diocese are washing their hands of these people. Even worse he and his fellow bishops and priests continue to oppose (albeit behind the scenes) their efforts to change the laws so that they can have their day in court.
    Get a promise from Bartchak to stop opposing legislation to abolish the statute of limitations and I will call that real progress. It’s a matter of healing and justice, which require that the diocese take responsibility for the victims of the last fifty years and make reparations for the lives they have destroyed. It’s also a matter of justice that the guilty priests be held accountable for their crimes. As it stands now, there are dozens of priest sexual predators living in our communities who are undocumented and a great risk to children. I do not hear a word about either these survivors or these perpetrators who retired with full honors.

    Only when the LAW is changed can we be assured that the sexual predator priests and their enablers will be held accountable and their victims justly compensated. Do not be deceived by smoke and mirrors-Bartchak is throwing the survivors under the bus.

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