AP NEWS

Bishop says he always worked to protect children

August 8, 2018

Anticipating an imminent release of a comprehensive grand jury report on sexual abuse of minors in six dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, the Diocese of Harrisburg has released its own report : including the names of 72 priests and seminarians accused of abuse since 1947.

The report does not cite years when the abuse allegedly occurred or was reported. 

The Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades was bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg from 2004 to 2009 : immediately before being appointed to succeed the Rev. John M. D’Arcy as bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 2009 and installed as bishop in 2010.

D’Arcy had been a critic of the way sexual abuse allegations were handled in the Archdiocese of Boston under the late Cardinal Bernard Law before being appointed to head the local diocese.

Rhoades recently issued a statement to The Journal Gazette and other media that he always worked to protect children, both in his previous post and locally.

“I have upheld an unwavering commitment to child safety, closely following all policies and procedures put in place to punish those responsible for abuse,” Rhoades said in the statement.

“I followed all child protection policies and procedures, notified law enforcement and punished each individual as appropriate.”

The statement says Rhoades has written a letter in response to the grand jury report.

According to the Associated Press, the 900-page report : expected to be have some names and other details redacted, or blacked out, before being issued : has compiled the names more than 300 predatory clergy in the six dioceses.

They are Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. The report could be issued as early as this week.

“The grand jury report and my letter in response, when released, will eliminate any speculation regarding the decisions made during my tenure as bishop of the Harrisburg diocese,” the statement says. 

Last week, the Harrisburg diocese’s current bishop, the Rev.  Ronald W. Gainer, said in a statement that past bishops of that diocese didn’t always take adequate actions to deal with clergy sexual abuse cases.

Gainer did not name the bishops. The accused clerics, however, were named.

Gainer’s statement said bishops and clergy would not be honored in the diocese, in naming of facilities for them, for example. 

Rhoades offered “heartfelt sympathy and support” to victims of abusive priests in his statement.

“It is a critical step in acknowledging what has occurred and beginning the process of healing for victims and so many others impacted by this tragedy,” the statement says.

“As leaders, we have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” the statement adds. “My commitment to this effort remains as strong today as it was during my time in Harrisburg.”

Rhoades grew up in the Diocese of Harrisburg. He was a priest in the Harrisburg diocese from 1983 to 1985 and 1990 to 1995 and worked as an aide in the bishop’s office in 1988, according to his formal biography.

rsalter@jg.net

BISHOP’S STATEMENT

As we wait for the public release of the Grand Jury report, I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy and support to all of those victims of abusive priests. It is a critical step in acknowledging what has occurred and beginning the process of healing for victims and so many others impacted by this tragedy. During my time in Harrisburg and now in Fort Wayne-South Bend, I have upheld an unwavering commitment to child safety, closely following all policies and procedures put in place to punish those responsible for abuse. I followed all child protection policies and procedures, notified law enforcement and punished each individual as appropriate.

The Grand Jury report and my letter in response, when released, will eliminate any speculation regarding the decisions made during my tenure as Bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese. As leaders, we have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. My commitment to this effort remains as strong today as it was during my time in Harrisburg.

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