An investigation into the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis in Pennsylvania has reached a new and unprecedented height of scrutiny. Last week, four more Catholic dioceses received subpoenas regarding child sexual abuse including Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. The diocese of Harrisburg is already part of the probe. The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese did not get a subpoena because the attorney general’s office released its grand jury report of that region in March. The report led to charges against three Franciscan friars for alleged child endangerment and criminal conspiracy. The agency also set up a hotline for people to call to report abuse claims across the state.
The Diocese of Allentown would not confirm or deny receipt of a subpoena. The diocese is presently dealing with a related crisis-a pastor has been arrested for possessing child pornography.
In 2005 and 2011, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was the subject of two grand jury reports which detailed the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests as well as the cover-up of Philadelphia’s archbishops dating back into the 1950’s.
Pennsylvania State Representative Mark Rozzi, a sex abuse survivor himself, has already testified before a grand jury and will hold a news conference this week about a new legislative proposal that would change the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases.
In light of the statewide probe of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, the state’s Catholic Conference may have a more difficult time fighting the legislation and protecting an institution that has covered up abuse and corruption for years. The New York Catholic Conference was successful in blocking similar legislation but it didn’t do so in the light of a statewide investigation.
Testimony in all six dioceses will begin soon and Rozzi believes Keystone state citizens will be shocked by the magnitude of the problem. Rozzi told one media outlet, “people are going to be really, really shocked” when the Pennsylvania Attorney General uncovers their findings.
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