BISHOP PERSICO CONCURS WITH AG ABOUT RELEASE OF GRAND JURY REPORT
Story and photo by Mary Solberg | nwpaCatholic.com
Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico has called for a swift and fair resolution to the stalled release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that details clergy sex abuse of minors in six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses.
The bishop’s statement came in the wake of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s July 25 letter to Pope Francis asking the pontiff to direct church leaders to “follow the path of truth” and abandon efforts to silence abuse survivors.
In his statement to the press July 26, Bishop Persico said: “Victims and their advocates have indicated that the delay of the report’s release is causing more suffering. After two years preparing the report, the attorney general is understandably frustrated. And we have seen the concerns of the petitioners who feel they have not had due process.”
Bishop Persico was the only prelate in the state to testify in person before members of the grand jury empaneled from 2016-18.
“I believe in our legal system and have confidence that those involved understand the urgency and the import of the work that must be accomplished. I am hopeful that the situation will be resolved swiftly and fairly for all involved,” the bishop added.
For the bishop’s full statement and Shapiro’s letter to Pope Francis, go to https://www.eriercd.org/Bishop-Persicos-statements.html.
A legal drama has been playing out since June, when Shapiro had planned to release the 800-page grand jury report. But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a last-minute stay after several individuals who were named—but not charged—in the report argued that the report, if released without their comment, would violate their constitutional rights.
All six bishops of the dioceses investigated by the grand jury the past two years supported the release of the report, despite what Bishop Persico called its “graphic” and “sobering” content.
The grand jury report remains under seal by the state Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Bishop Persico recently added more names to the Diocese of Erie’s publicized list of clergy and lay men and woman who have been credibly accused of actions that disqualify them from working with children and youth. New names also have been added to those under investigation.
(See the complete Public Disclosure List at https://www.eriercd.org/childprotection/disclosure.html.)