Bishop Ronald Gainer Orders Names of Former Bishops Removed from Church Buildings

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PENNSYLVANIA – For over a year, a Pittsburgh grand jury has heard testimony concerning alleged rape and sexual abuse of children by members of the Catholic Church. Cases of sexual abuse span seventy years and include all six of the dioceses in Pennsylvania.

The jury’s findings will be compiled into a report that will be the “most comprehensive and geographically expansive official report ever produced in the United States on the enormity of the scandal,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In anticipation of the report, Bishop Ronald Gainer ordered yesterday that the names of former bishops be removed from Catholic Church buildings. Some of the names that will be removed date back to bishops from the 1940s.

“I hereby declare that anyone who has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor will have his name removed from any position of honor throughout the Diocese,” Bishop Gainer wrote in an official building name policy. “I further declare that the name of every Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg since 1947 shall be removed from any building, facility, or room in the Diocese.”

71 accused seminarians, clergy, and church staff names were on a list published by Bishop Gainer on Wednesday.

“As has been the subject of many public discussion, the Diocese has unfortunately, at times, been the home of men originally called to the service of God who, for reasons unknown and unfathomable, instead ignored that summons and turned to pursuit of heinous personal ends,” Bishop Gainer wrote in an official diocesan letter. “That conduct has left a legacy of pain and sorrow that is still being felt. On behalf of the Diocese of Harrisburg, I apologize for these actions.”

Bishop Gainer was installed as the bishop of Harrisburg on March 19, 2014. Shortly after his installment, he instructed the diocesan staff to sift through diocesan records and create a list of clergy and seminarians who had been accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The list was scheduled to be published in late 2016, but publication was delayed at the request of the Office of Attorney General.

Since the grand jury’s findings will be published soon, the diocese made the list available to the public. “The list will be available on the Diocese’s website for the foreseeable future and will be amended as necessary going forward,” Bishop Gainer explained in the letter.

“The past described in this letter and in the list is no longer a private one,” Bishop Gainer concluded.

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