HARRISBURG – It’s been exactly a year since the release of the Grand Jury Report by the State Attorney General on child sex abuse involving Catholic church clergy. In a news release Wednesday, the Diocese of Harrisburg says it has spent $12.1 million in payments towards its Survivors Compensation Program.
The Diocese says 106 survivors accepted offers and 112 participated in the program. The program was created by the Diocese and managed by a private mediation firm. The Diocese has also said all survivors, regardless of their participation in the program, received free (or low cost) counseling services.
The Diocese says it has also removed all bishop’s names from place of honor because of their failure to do enough to prevent the abuse. Names of priests, deacons, and seminarians listed in the Diocese’s or Grand Jury Report were also removed.
All of this is part of the steps being taken by the Harrisburg Diocese to acknowledge its past and move toward the future. Moving toward the future, the Diocese continues to contract retired Pennsylvania State Police Captain Janet McNeal to oversee its Safe Environment Program.
The Diocese says it has also revised its Safe Environment Program Lesson Plan for Catholic school and religious education students. It is also reconstituting the Diocesan Pastoral Council, restructuring the Diocesan Review Board, and revised youth protection policies. You can see the Diocese’s full statement below.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg Releases Statement One Year After Release of Grand Jury Report
Diocese Releases Information on Survivors Compensation Program
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Today, Wednesday, August 14, 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg released the following statement one year after the release of the Grand Jury Report, highlighting our efforts over the past year to support survivors and make our Diocese a safer place for children.
“In my own name, and in the name of the Diocesan Church of Harrisburg, I express our profound sorrow and apologize to the survivors of child sex abuse, the Catholic faithful and the general public for the abuses that took place and for those Church officials who failed to protect children. We have and continue to take steps forward to support survivors and ensure these abuses never occur again.”– Bishop Ronald W. Gainer
Actions Taken Over the Last Year
Acknowledging Our Past:
- Removal of all Bishops names from positions of honor within the Diocese for failure to do enough to prevent childhood sexual abuse
- Removal of the names of Priests, Deacons and Seminarians named in our Report or the Grand Jury Report from positions of honor within the Diocese
- Conducted nine listening sessions, allowing the faithful and survivors to express their concerns, frustrations and feelings
- Created the Survivor Compensation Program, which was managed by a private mediation firm(Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation, Inc.)
o Program was open for survivors of childhood sexual abuse committed by Harrisburg Clergy, Deacons and Seminarians, as well as Order Priests
o 112 survivors participated in the Program
o 106 survivors accepted offers
o $12.1 million total payments to Survivors in the Program
- Ensured that all survivors of childhood sexual abuse receive counseling services, at low or no cost to them and from a counselor of their choosing, regardless of their participation in the Survivor Compensation Program; accepting or declining a compensation offer in no way impacted a survivor’s access to counseling
- Created an email address to offer more access for parishioners and the public to communicate directly with Bishop Gainer
Moving the Diocese Forward:
- Every report of child sexual abuse is reported to Childline and the appropriate District Attorney as has been our Policy since the early 2000s
- Contracted with Janet McNeal, retired Pennsylvania State Police Captain who oversaw Megan’s Law, to oversee the Diocese’s Safe Environment Program
- Reconstituting the Diocesan Pastoral Council
- Restructuring the Diocesan Review Board
- Revised our youth protection policies
- Maintained and reformed an intensive screening and education process for those in formation for the priesthood
- Revised the Safe Environment Program Lesson Plan for Catholic School and Religious Education students
- Streamlined multiple Diocesan offices to ensure every parishioners’ dollar is spent efficiently and effectively
- Revised communications materials, including The Catholic Witness, and will soon be relaunching a new website