Scranton Bishop Misspoke On Timlin Report
The Most Rev. Joseph Bambera misspoke last week when he said he would release the findings of the Scranton diocesan Independent Review Board on former bishop James C. Timlin’s handling of priests accused of sexual abuse, a diocese official said Tuesday. Bambera will receive a verbal recommendation from the review board regarding Timlin’s future role in representing the diocese at public events, said diocese spokesman William Genello. The bishop then will announce his decision, but the board’s recommendation will remain confidential as mandated by the diocese’s policy, he said. The diocese sought to clarify information published by The Times-Tribune in two articles, on Aug. 22 and 26, and in an Aug. 24 editorial that stated Bambera would release the report of the review board. On Aug. 17, Bambera announced he was referring Timlin to the review board. His announcement followed the Aug. 14 release of a statewide investigating grand jury report on priest sexual abuse of children and diocese leaders’ cover-ups of the abuse within six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Scranton, where the report named 59 accused priests. The grand jury found Timlin failed to act properly on sexual abuse allegations made against some priests. Timlin, 91, retired in 2003,but he remained active with the diocese, including presiding over a confirmation at two Luzerne County churches in May. Bambera said he forbid Timlin from representing the diocese in future events pending the review board’s recommendation, which is expected by Friday. In an Aug. 21 interview with the newspaper, Bambera said the review board, which consists of a three lay people, a priest and a religious sister, evaluates allegations of sexual abuse against clergy members. He said he decided to refer Timlin’s case to the board, even though he is not accused of abuse, because he wanted to have an “objective lens” evaluate the matter. When a Times-Tribune reporter asked Bambera if the Independent Review Board’s report would be made public, he said, “I will indeed make that report public.” The review board was established in 2002, under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which mandates dioceses have a review board that functions as a confidential, consultative body to the bishop, Genello said. “The IRB delivers a verbal recommendation to Bishop Bambera, whose decision will be made public. This is the same process the diocese has followed for any credibly accused priest,” Genello said. “Though the review of a previous bishop by a sitting bishop is unusual, Bishop Bambera intends to be consistent in process as the IRB considers a recommendation on Bishop Timlin.” Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9137; @tmbeseckerTT on Twitter.