This week, the report from the grand jury tasked with investigating allegations of sexual abuse at six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses was released, detailing the wreckage wrought by more than 300 predators over a period of decades.
As always, it’s not just the crime but the cover up, once again by church officials.
The two-year investigation identified more than 1,000 victims of clergy in Scranton, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, but the report concluded that the actual number of children is “in the thousands.”
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro held a press conference Tuesday, surrounded by a dozen of the abuse survivors, to announce he would fight for full transparency to ensure the names of all the accused priests and clergy be released.
Knowing what was coming, the Harrisburg diocese earlier this month released the names of 72 clergy members accused of sexually abusing children. That’s just one diocese.
Out of 301 priests, only two have been charged. That’s because of the statute of limitations, the lack of clarity around a duty to report abuse and the nature of confidentiality agreements, all things Shapiro called on the state legislature to amend.
The 884-page report comes days after the Department of Labor’s memo instructing the government not to deny federal contracts to faith-based organizations, even if they discriminate.
In the enforcement of nondiscrimination laws, the department is now required to “proceed in a manner neutral toward and tolerant of … religious beliefs.” This appears to directly contradict federal law, which prohibits discrimination based on a number of categories (gender identity and sexual orientation not among them).
This new policy will likely be challenged in court, but it is yet another example of the influence religious organizations — the Catholic Church in particular — exercise in the name of perpetrating and covering up decades of child abuse, avoiding taxes, taking federal, state and, where available, city funding, all while now being allowed to discriminate against anyone they wish.