Donald W. Trautman, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Erie has died
In retirement, Trautman was entangled in the clergy abuse scandal that traveled with him during his work as bishop.
Though Trautman said he dealt with all the cases properly, he never released the names of the abusive priests — as Bishop Persico, his successor, has done — and he bristled as Attorney General Shapiro, victims and others called him out for what they viewed as an unforgivable lack of diligence and transparency during the scandal.
We hope Catholic officials will show compassion to abuse victims and betrayed Catholics by avoiding a funeral service with full honors. Restraint would be appropriate unless the church hierarchy wants to deepen already deep wounds.
In our view, Trautman’s serious wrongdoing is already ignored and minimized by the church’s hierarchy. Trautman long kept silent about clergy sex crimes and subsequent cover-ups. The 2018 grand jury report, which identified nearly 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses who had abused more than 1,000 children, coincided with an unraveling clergy abuse scandal in the Buffalo Diocese, where Trautman was second-in-command in the 1970s and 1980s when several priests faced molestation accusations.
Trautman told The News in 2019 he didn’t cover up for any abusive priests when he worked as chancellor and vicar general in Buffalo. He declined to comment on an allegation that in the early 1980s he had blamed a teenage boy for being abused by a priest.
We know many victims may have certain feelings regarding the death of Bishop Trautman and we would encourage each individual to seek support with trusted friends and family. Our support groups are open to survivors and groups can be found here.
CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], (267 -261-0578 ), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386 ), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(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)