Harrisburg Diocese plans meetings to address clergy abuse report

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | Jan 9, 2019 1:37 PM
Bishop Ronald Gainer Aug 2018.jpg

Bishop Ronald Gainer, of the Harrisburg Diocese, arrives to celebrates mass at the Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pa., Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Harrisburg) -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg is scheduled to hold a series of "listening sessions" across the region.

The meetings are meant to address last year's grand jury report into child sexual abuse by clergy members. 

The diocese says the events will give Bishop Ronald Gainer the chance to hear directly from parishioners about the grand jury report, the church's response, and the diocese's path forward.

Janet McNeal, a retired State Police captain who was recently hired to oversee child protection efforts in the diocese, will also be available for questions.

A spokesman declined an interview to provide more details. The sessions will be closed to journalists.

Ahead of the grand jury report, the Harrisburg Diocese released a list of more than 70 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse dating back to 1947.

The report detailed allegations from 1,000 victims of child sexual abuse by 300 clergy members across the commonwealth as well as decades of cover-ups by the church.

The diocese has since set up a compensation fund for victims with money from diocesan investments and reserve funds--but not from parish weekly collections.

But, it opposes efforts in the legislature to open a window for lawsuits on cases in which the statute of limitations has already expired.

The sessions are planned to start Thursday in Harrisburg and scheduled across the diocese through the end of next month.

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