PA--Altoona bishop makes promises; Victims respond

For immediate release: Thursday, March 3, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790314 645 5915 home, [email protected])

No one with a bit of sense should believe Altoona bishop when he, once again, pledges reform about child sex crimes and cover ups.

For centuries, Catholic officials have dealt with abuse reports. In the US, for more than 30 years, these scandals have surfaced publicly. The first Altoona priest was sued in the mid-1980s. Bishop Mark Bartchak and his predecessors have had years to “reform.” But they haven’t and they won’t.

We’re glad he says he’ll post predators’ names on his website. But he should put them on parish websites too, and post them prominently, permanently and promptly. He should also include ALL predators – living or deceased, diocesan or religious order, and regardless of whether they are priests, nuns, brothers, seminarians, bishops or other church employees. He should have done this years ago. And he should include their photos, whereabouts and work histories.

Bartchak’s pledge to reform internal church policies is worthless. Bishops rarely follow their own policies. They are secretive monarchs. There are no checks and balances on a king. So Bartchak and his staff can promise anything. But there’s no way anyone will know if he keeps these promises. And when he breaks them, there will be no punishment. So church abuse protocols, policies and procedures are meaningless.

The solution lies in the secular sphere. Victims, witnesses and whistleblowers must call law enforcement. Police and prosecutors must investigate, charge and convict those who commit and conceal clergy sex crimes. Lawmakers must reform predator-friendly statutes of limitations. Parents, parishioners and the public must pressure Catholic officials to take tangible steps to protect the vulnerable and expose the truth – not empty gestures like “healing services.”

And Bartchak must defrock, demote, discipline and demote every parish and diocesan staffer who ignored or hid child sex crimes.

That’s what’s needed in Altoona. That’s what will make a difference.

(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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,[email protected])


Pennsylvania bishop promises reforms after abuse report

Posted: 4:02 p.m. Thursday, March 3, 2016 -The Associated Press

ALTOONA, Pa. — The bishop of a Pennsylvania Catholic diocese apologized Thursday and promised reforms two days after the attorney general released a scathing report on clergy sex abuse of children involving allegations against dozens of priests.

"I acknowledge there are a number of recommendations made in this report involving how we respond to  . . .

Read full article here

Showing 4 comments

  • Rheba Salac
    commented 2016-03-05 16:29:41 -0600
    I downloaded and read the Johnstown-Altoona Diocese Grand Jury Report. It is a microcosm of what exists in real time, right now, in every Catholic Diocese around the world from the Vatican on down. The reason is: all are governed by “Canon Law” which mandates silence. The last decree a few weeks ago stated that, once again, non-reporting is the norm, exactly what would be expected from a criminal enterprise that calls itself a church. About a year ago, another statement was made that the pedophilia rate is “only” 2%, an outright lie. The only things that will cure this are to STOP GIVING, STOP LENDING YOUR PHYSICAL PRESENCE AT MASS, and SUPPORT TWO LAWS: NO TIME LIMIT ON REPORTING & PROSECUTION IN SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS, AND REMOVAL OF JURISDICTION OF CANON LAW IN THE INSTANCE OF PEDOPHILIA. When I looked at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia about 2 years ago, the (reported) pedophiles made up about 23% of the priests. These predators make hard-core pornography look mild. Every parishioner in every parish in every country ought to receive a copy of this Report, and I would bet that the majority of them could not stomach it and would go into denial. Thanks Kathleen Kane and the Cambria County District Attorney’s office for working on this.
  • Jackie Baldasano
    commented 2016-03-05 05:42:30 -0600
    Why is the national media not reporting on this? What are they afraid of? Did no one see Spotlight? Please have the courage to do the right thing!
  • Johanna Smith
    commented 2016-03-04 12:55:58 -0600
    Once again the Catholic Church has lied to cover pedophile priests. Until the Catholic Church has opened their records, and posted the name of every pedophile priest alive and dead, victims will not recover.
    Johanna J Smith
  • @ tweeted this page. 2016-03-03 16:05:13 -0600

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