We need to promote educated and informed thinking to better understand the causes of abuse, and learn ways of improving methods to prevent, to protect and to provide helpful support for abuse victims. InI was appointed to an ad hoc committee to review certain files pertaining to several men who had been accused of abuse. And, in many of the cases detailed in the Grand Jury report, Bishop Timlin fell short, too. Rather, the Program will be funded by existing Diocesan assets and available reserves. Individuals identified as mandated reporters of child abuse are expected to complete training on this topic.
Every staff member and church volunteer, whether they interact with children or not, is required to attend both Mandated Reporter Training and VIRTUS sessions, the Code of Conduct and have all background checks done. To those who feel I betrayed their trust in me by allowing Bishop Timlin to continue to minister publicly in the Diocese of Scranton since his retirement, I apologize.
We believe such a program will expedite the process for survivors to present their cases to experienced, compassionate experts who will determine an outcome for each case in a swift, efficient manner. With the beginning of the new school and religious education year, the Diocese of Scranton Safe Environment Advisory Committee stresses the importance of following state and Diocesan protocols for employees and volunteers. Survivors can continue to receive assistance from the Diocese including counseling or spiritual direction and referrals to support groups. We cannot undo the harm that childhood sexual abuse has caused, but in humility and repentance we hope the path forward offers a way toward healing for survivors and their families.
This Program is one of the many steps the Diocese has taken to assist survivors of abuse. If volunteers lived out of state during the year timeframe, they are required to complete the FBI federal check in addition to the two state certifications.
However, I also know that the Church could have — should have — done more to protect our children. This was not a decision that was taken lightly. We believe an independent panel is the best option, considering a window or reviver of the statute of limitations will inevitably result in bankruptcy for dioceses. Bishop Timlin had no administrative role looking for sex in Scranton the Diocese at the time, and had been out of office for seven years by the time of my appointment. In doing so, the panel will provide a resolution to survivors and allow them to avoid difficult and prolonged litigation.
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As background, the board — comprised of three lay persons, a religious sister and a religious priest — is a confidential consultative body put in place to advise a bishop on the assessment of allegations of abuse. For a schedule of training sessions, please refer to the Diocesan website at www. To that end, we commit ourselves to creating or participating in an independent, voluntary program that will include a panel of qualified experts to review individual cases and determine financial assistance. These individuals are highly qualified and equipped to assist me with this decision, as each boasts expertise related to law enforcement, education, counseling or victim looking for sex in Scranton.
Frankly, when I became Bishop inmy concern at the time was not with Bishop Timlin, but on the need to keep predator priests out of ministry and to create environments in which our children would be safe. It is important that I make this very clear: Bishop Timlin did not abuse children, nor has he ever been accused of having done so. We stress that it is most important for all experts serving on this panel to be independent of the influence of the Church or of any institution in which children may have been abused.
The Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania issued the following statement on September 21, Since the release of the grand jury report on August 14, we the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania have reflected deeply on the ugly record of clergy sexual abuse in our Commonwealth, and on times when Church leadership failed to protect our people over a period of decades. We welcome legislative support for such a program. Though it is unusual for a sitting bishop to review a prior bishop, I insisted the board use the same process for Bishop Timlin as is used for any accused priest or lay person.
If necessary, the Diocese will sell assets and borrow money.
While he followed the existing rules and policies when handling most of these cases, there was more he could have done to protect children. Instead, he mishandled some cases of abuse. It is with this context that I share my decision around Bishop Timlin.
After much thought and with careful consideration of the recommendation from the Independent Review Board, I have decided to permanently restrict Bishop Timlin from representing the Diocese of Scranton at all public events, liturgical or otherwise.
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The report focused not only on abusive priests, but also brought increased attention to the role of those who enabled such abuse to continue. Volunteers serving children must also complete background checks. As many of you know, I have been a priest of the Diocese of Scranton for 35 years. We cannot ignore this fact today. As various alternatives and programs are proposed, we will support all looking for sex in Scranton and constitutional efforts focused on helping survivors and their families on a path toward healing.
This change calls us to see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. The Diocese announced on November 8, that the Program would be administered by Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, two leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution who have overseen similar programs started by five Catholic Dioceses in New York. The Diocese fully cooperates with law enforcement for any necessary investigation. Program administrators will reach out directly to those who have ly reported a claim of abuse to the Diocese of Scranton.
The task of this committee was to make recommendations to the Bishop to ensure that all men credibly accused of abuse were removed from ministry, as mandated by the Charter — not to assess how Bishop Timlin handled cases of abuse.
Prior to becoming your Bishop inI served in numerous parish and administrative asments. New claims must be registered with the Program by July 22,while existing claims can be submitted until September 30, Administrators will process claims in the order in which they are received, and payments will be made on a rolling basis as claims are processed. Feinberg and Ms. Biros will have absolute autonomy in determining compensation for survivors, and the Diocese of Scranton has agreed to abide by all of their decisions.
The Committee members are:. As the Pennsylvania General Assembly returns for the fall legislative session, assuring the protection of children and help for survivors of sexual abuse should rightly be one of its top priorities. Father Connell A. Another important component of the program is the work of the Safe Environment Advisory Committee. Following this extensive review process, 10 men were removed from ministry. Participation in the Program by survivors is entirely voluntary and the Program is run completely independent of the Diocese. An Independent Oversight Committee comprised of three individuals with relevant experience across healthcare, law enforcement and social work will supervise the Program.
Some have asked why I did not restrict Bishop Timlin from publicly representing the Diocese of Scranton sooner, given the information that was shared in the Grand Jury report. We recognize our responsibility to provide an opportunity for sexual abuse survivors whose cases are time-barred from pursuing civil claims to share their experiences, identify their abusers, and receive compensation to assist their healing and recovery. The Oversight Committee will oversee and periodically review the implementation and administration of the Program.
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We hope that as the program develops it will be open to any youth service organization, private or public, to opt into it to fulfill its obligations to survivors of abuse. In that role, I became aware of accusations that were brought against several priests. He presided over the Diocese of Scranton for nearly 20 years — a time in which the Diocese fell short of its duty to protect children.
It has also caused me to reflect on my own role in handling allegations of abuse in the Church, too. Parish and school assets, as well as contributions and bequests from parishioners and donations to the Diocesan Annual Appeal will not be used to fund the program. Their combined experience brings a unique perspective that I simply do not have. Bankruptcy would cripple the ability of a diocese to provide compensation and healing for survivors, while vastly reducing or eliminating social service programs that greatly benefit all Pennsylvanians by serving some of the most at-risk people in our communities.
We understand that this compensation program will require substantial fiscal commitment and all dioceses will be seriously impacted. Yet, the sobering report of the statewide Grand Jury has shown me that I could have done more in this regard immediately upon my appointment to Bishop. Looking for sex in Scranton, D. While no financial compensation can change the past, it is my hope that this Program will help survivors in their healing and recovery process. The Grand Jury report has not only compelled me to review the actions of Bishop Timlin but also to consider my role and past actions in protecting children.
This is the fullest extent that my authority permits me to act relative to another bishop. Often, survivors are most concerned with having their abuse acknowledged by the Church so they can begin to heal, and this compensation program will help them do just that. Thus, I took the unprecedented step of asking the Independent Review Board of the Diocese of Scranton to review how Bishop James Timlin handled allegations and his role in all cases prior to the Dallas Charter in I recently received a recommendation from the Independent Review Board. The Diocese strictly adheres to a zero tolerance policy and immediately notifies law enforcement, the District Attorney and child protective services when abuse is reported.
The Committee will also report to the Diocese as to the implementation and administration of the Program. Personally, I will unite with you among the participants, during the observance of this Day of Atonement and Healing with the community of the Cathedral of Saint Peter.
Those volunteers that have lived continuously in Pennsylvania for the past 10 years also need to obtain the two state background checks. Kathy Bolinski, Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator, said the Diocese is fortunate to have such dedicated individuals responsible for directly implementing the Safe Environment program.
The Fortieth Statewide Grand Jury Report released earlier this month shared the tragic details of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over the past seventy years. Each Parish received a packet of resources to assist in planning for individual, family, parish and Diocesan-level participation. I understand that it is unfair to judge past actions against present day standards. While such an experience does not need a specific start or finish, in order to benefit from the communal expression of this commitment, all parishes have been asked to consider a twenty-four hour period beginning the evening of Friday, September 14 — the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
When the allegation appears credible, the Diocese removes the priest from ministry pending an investigation.
We deeply regret the suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them. We fully acknowledge that the Church sometimes failed the most vulnerable among us — children and young adults.