PA--Altoona bishop makes promises; Victims respond
For immediate release: Thursday, March 3, 2016
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 SNAPnetwork.org)
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 . . .