Diocese of Greensburg Hides Second Accusation Against Msgr. Michael Matusak
A Pennsylvania bishop has reportedly kept hidden a second abuse report against one of his priests. We call on the prelate to learn from this serious mistake, and to aggressively seek out other victims who may still be suffering in shame and self-blame.
Greensburg Bishop Edward Malesic apparently did not tell parishioners, parents and the public that Monsignor Michael Matusak - who has already been removed from ministry because of one accusation - is now facing a second.
Why does this matter?
First, in the eyes of many, the difference between one accusation and two accusations is considerable. It is more likely that people would trust a cleric who faces one allegation than one who faces two, so for the safety of the vulnerable all allegations should be made public.
Second, this information could be helpful to police and prosecutors. The more information that law enforcement has about a case, the greater the probability of successfully charging, convicting and jailing those who commit or conceal these crimes.
We note that in this case the Diocese reportedly contacted the civil authorities “immediately” after receiving the second allegation. However, Church officials could have done more to help with the investigation by also making that accusation public, and by begging anyone with information to come forward.
Third, it is important for the well-being and healing of this second accuser. We can only imagine the pain that must be felt by a survivor when they see their allegation ignored publicly, but it must seem as though that person and their suffering do not matter at all to Church officials.
Finally, it is important for the credibility of Catholic Church. On the heels of yet another week of “reform” by American bishops, stories like this help illustrate how far the hierarchy still has to go in responding properly to cases of abuse. If prelates want to avoid undercutting their own credibility and that of their colleagues, they must learn from situations like this and learn quickly.
We hope every person who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups in the Greensburg diocese - whether by Msgr. Matusak or any other church official - will come forward, make a report to police, and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)