Nearly 30% of Harrisburg Diocese Parishes Home to Accused Priests Since 2000

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2020 | Catholic Church

In February 2020, the Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.  According to the Diocese of Harrisburg, the move was motivated by the potential legal exposure of multiple sexual abuse claims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  

The Diocese of Harrisburg published a list of 113 parishes and chaplaincy assignments held by priests it says were credibly accused of sexual misconduct.  The Diocese also identified several seminarians, deacons, and unassigned priests accused of sexual abuse of a minor.  

Surprisingly, 17 of the priests identified in the Diocese of Harrisburg’s self-published list of 66 credibly accused clergy ministered in the Diocese after the year 2000.  Several held multiple assignments in the Harrisburg Diocese after 2000.  

This certainly belies the oft-repeated mantra of America’s bishops that “sexual abuse is a problem of the past.”  On the contrary, one-quarter of the accused clergy identified by the Diocese in 2018 continued in ministry well into the 2000s, and some were only removed from ministry within the past five years.

Those clergy whose ministry continued into the 2000s are:

The 17 priests were assigned to minister in 25 parishes, which means that nearly 30% of the Harrisburg Diocese’s 89 parishes were tended to by an accused priests at some point since 2000.

Since the publication of the Grand Jury Report into the misdeeds of seven of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said he has received more than 2000 additional reports of sexual abuse.  It is very likely, then, that the number of parishes that were home to an accused priest is far higher because those reports were not taken into account by the Diocese of Harrisburg. 

The August 2018 list demonstrated that nearly every single parish in the Diocese of Harrisburg had a credibly accused priest assigned to minister at some point since 1960.  The list of parishes that have been home to an accused clergyman has not been updated since its original publication.

Through our own investigative efforts, Horowitz Law has identified nearly 90 clergymen and seminarians publicly accused of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg.   

The Diocese of Harrisburg oversees the operation of 89 parishes, 8 Catholic Missions, and dozens of schools and hospitals.  Nearly 250,000 people are registered members of a Diocese of Harrisburg parish.  

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania.  The Diocese of Harrisburg filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020.  Anyone sexually abused by a priest or employee of the Diocese of Harrisburg may be entitled to file a claim against the Diocese in these bankruptcy proceedings, but very strict filing deadlines apply.  Most victims of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg will never be able to take against against the Diocese of Harrisburg if they miss this bankruptcy filing deadline, so it is important that you contact us immediately to discuss your potential case.   

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your legal options today.