Marywood Joins Local Colleges In Rescinding Honors From Bishops
Marywood University will rescind an honorary degree and medal given to the Most Rev. James C. Timlin, retired bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, after a Pennsylvania grand jury report showed he was complicit in covering up church-wide sex abuse.
“The Marywood University Board of Trustees has voted to rescind an honorary doctorate and a presidential medal bestowed on bishop James C. Timlin in 2003 and 2012 respectively,” a press release issued Monday from the college and signed by president Sister Mary Persico, I.H.M., stated.
Marywood joins the region’s Catholic universities, including Misericordia University, King’s College and the University of Scranton, which over the past week stripped away honors and made changes to buildings named after Timlin and former bishops J. Carroll McCormick and Jerome D. Hannan.
A statewide investigating grand jury released a report on Aug. 14 that exposed decades of priests’ sexual abuse of children in six Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses, including Scranton.
Marywood did not bestow honorary degrees or formal accolades on any other bishop referenced in the report. The university voted to rescind the Timlin’s honors because the report says he “placed children and vulnerable persons at risk by failing to appropriately handle abuse cases and concealing reports of sexual abuse committed by priests.”
Timlin served as Scranton bishop from April 1984 until July 2003. Toward the end of his tenure, he acted more quickly and decisively on church abuse, including organizing the Diocese of Scranton’s first significant system for dealing with abuses by 1993. But earlier in his role as bishop, he often did not report abuse to authorities.
The report reveals Timlin reassigned predator priests after receiving reports of abuse and vouched for those same priests in out-of-town dioceses. In one instance, Timlin wrote to a Pike County judge asking to keep a priest, who abused multiple young boys and was HIV-positive, out of jail and instead send him to a church-run rehabilitation center.
“In light of these devastating events of the past, we recognize that change begins with us. We step forward to rebuild and grow a community of faith that better reflects our true beliefs and to pray for and with a new generation that seeks meaning, authenticity and purpose,” Persico said in the release.
The university supports and advances the Most Rev. Joseph Bambera’s response to the report that “child sexual abuse cannot be tolerated and must be eradicated.”
At King’s College, McCormick’s name has been removed from the Campus Ministry Center, said John McAndrew, director of public relations. The college is still in the process of rescinding past honors bestowed on McCormick and Timlin, he added.
Misericordia’s Board of trustees voted Friday to revoke an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree awarded to Timlin in 2002 and the Hafey-McCormick Science Building has been renamed the Science Hall, said Paul Krzywicki, manager of public relations and publications.
The University of Scranton announced on Aug. 20 they would rename three campus buildings christened with the monikers of the three Scranton bishops —Timlin, McCormick and Hannan — and also rescind honorary degrees bestowed on them.
Contact the writer: