One Year After Pa. Grand Jury Report: Bishop Malesic Speaks to Parishioners In New Video
In a video posted today by the Diocese of Greensburg, Bishop Edward C. Malesic spoke to parishioners about the impact of the Grand Jury Report.
“The release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report in August of 2018 left many Catholics across the country and in the Diocese of Greensburg feeling betrayed, angry, confused and disillusioned with their Church and its former leaders,” Bishop Malesic said. “I can understand why. I am ashamed by the horrible misconduct revealed in the report.”
In it, he continues, “I cannot change the past. I cannot rewrite this awful chapter of our Church’s history.
“But I can try to help survivors, their families and our parishioners get through this time of suffering. I have spent nearly every day of my time as Bishop solidifying our commitment to higher standards of accountability in the Diocese of Greensburg.”
Bishop Malesic then goes on to detail measures to protect children and initiatives to support abuse survivors.
“More than 15,000 people, many of them staff and volunteers, have been screened and trained to recognize when a child may be in danger and how to immediately report it. That’s because our requirements to work or volunteer in the diocese include a series of state and federal background checks with fingerprints, mandatory reporter training and VIRTUS, a best-practices program designed to help prevent child abuse and promote correct responses by those who work or volunteer in religious organizations.
Those same people, with their training, are now helping the larger community to recognize, report, and prevent child abuse. We truly believe that we are making a difference!”
About survivors he said, “In February of this year, I announced details of a Comprehensive Reconciliation Initiative. The initiative includes a Survivors’ Compensation program, an opportunity for survivors to have personal interaction with an objective program administrator, as well as access to counseling and spiritual guidance.”
Bishop Malesic spoke about the establishment of a Safe Environment Advisory Council, consisting of laypeople from each of the four counties of the Diocese. Members came from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, the legal community, health care and parish ministries.
That Council oversaw a series of listening sessions held at parishes across the Diocese which gave parishioners the opportunity to express their feelings about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, make observations and offer suggestions.
“What I heard from our independent lay council and from countless individuals at the listening sessions, in dozens of letters and phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages was this:
Be accountable. Be transparent. Tell the truth,” Bishop Malesic said.
“And so, when some members of our clergy were recently removed from their place of ministry following an allegation of child sexual abuse, the public announcement of the removal of the cleric occurred within 24 hours of the allegation being made,” he continued.
Bishop Malesic closed the video by saying, “These public announcements about allegations support what has become the new normal along with zero tolerance of abusers in ministry. We have been moving toward this reality for a long time and hope you can see our actions as progress toward that end.
This past year has been a painful reckoning for us knowing that some members of the clergy were not faithful to their commitment to be good shepherds of the people of God. This truth is not always easy to hear. In fact, at times, it can be downright painful. I am sorry for what has happened in the past, and I am resolved, to the best of my ability, to make sure that it will never happen again.
I ask you to walk with me into that future and be vigilant so every child is safe.
In closing, I ask your prayers for all victims of sexual abuse that they may find peace and healing. And I ask your prayers for me and our Church that we may always find the way to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to people everywhere.”