U.S. Catholics 'sickened' by sex abuse
report, stand by their faith
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[August 20, 2018]
By Gabriella Borter
YORK, Pa. (Reuters) - Many churchgoers said
they were sickened and saddened by a grand jury report detailing
widespread sexual abuse by hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania but they
would not let the Roman Catholic Church's cover-up dissuade them from
Nearly 200 parishioners filled almost all the pews for Saturday’s Mass
at St. Patrick’s Church in York, Pennsylvania, where six priests who at
one time worked in that parish are accused in the report
https://bit.ly/2vTa9oY of sexually abusing children.
“I can't talk about it without crying," said Kathy Morris, a retired
steelworker and a member of St. Patrick's for over 15 years. "I'm going
to Mass to try to find some peace."
“I’m disappointed that it happened but as far as the faith goes, I’ll
never give my faith up,” said Anthony Giuffrida, 66, an usher and
lifelong member at St. Patrick’s. “I was raised Roman Catholic and
that’s what I’ll be till the day I die."
Few people attended the 9 a.m. service at St. Margaret Mary in
Harrisburg where the report accuses Rev. Richard Barry of abusing boys
in the 1980s. The parking lot was nearly empty, and a busload of seniors
from a retirement community were among the few who entered the church.
Most attending the Mass declined to comment or made brief statements
without giving their names.
"Our faith goes on," one woman said.
The grand jury report was the most comprehensive report on clergy abuse
in American history, accusing hundreds of priests in six of
Pennsylvania's eight dioceses of assaulting children for decades while
the diocese covered it up, often sending priests to treatment centers
and reassigning them to different parishes.
The results of the grand jury’s two-year investigation were the latest
revelation in a scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church since the
Boston Globe in 2002 reported on decades of clergy abuse and the attempt
by the diocese to cover it up.
Allegations of clergy abuse in Europe, Australia and Chile have also
emerged and prompted the resignation of several leaders within the
Church, which has about 1.2 billion members worldwide.
Rev. Keith Carroll of St. Patrick’s Church said in his sermon Saturday
that "What is contained in that report is sickening and saddening." He
said he was “struggling personally” with “anger, utter embarrassment and
Carroll implored his parish to not spurn the church because of the grand
jury’s findings: “Only God himself can bring us out of this darkness.”
[to top of second column]
Mary McHale, a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic
Church pauses during an interview with Reuters in Reading,
Pennsylvania, U.S., August 18, 2018. Picture taken August 18, 2018.
Many churchgoers echoed Carroll's hope that Catholics would not
abandon their faith out of disgust with the church leadership's past
behavior. Over 3 million people, about a quarter of Pennsylvania's
population, are Catholic according to the Pennsylvania Catholic
Over 100 people attended Sunday Mass at St. Columba Church in
Bloomsburg, formerly the parish of Rev. James Beeman whom the report
accused of raping a 7-year-old girl while she was in the hospital.
"I’m praying for our church community to hold onto our faith because
that’s still the best thing we have," said parishioner Mary Howe,
63, who has been a member at St. Columba since 1956.
Victims and their advocates said they were grateful that the report
outed so many abusive priests. The report cited 301 priests, some of
whom have died. Only two of the priests are still subject to
"This is only the tip," said Mary McHale, 46, who testified before
the grand jury and said she was abused by Rev. James Gaffney at her
Catholic high school in Reading. "It just multiplied inside me over
the years. The shame and the guilt and the low self-esteem, that
never leaves you."
McHale supports her former classmate and state Representative Mark
Rozzi, who said he was raped by his parish priest and is pushing to
change a law to give victims of child sex abuse more time to file
claims against their abusers.
State legislators expect to take up the bill in September, said
Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Representative
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Additional reporting by David Dekok
in Harrisburg; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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