BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The leader of a Catholic Diocese is apologizing following allegations of decades of sexual abuse within the church. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg has put out the names of more than 70 priests and others in the church accused of sexually abusing children. Some of them have ties to Baltimore.
Apart from releasing the names and issuing an apology, the Harrisburg Diocese has announced it will be removing the names of every bishop since 1947 from its buildings because they were in charge when the abuse happened.
Among them, the late Archbishop of Baltimore William Cardinal Keeler.
WJZ reached out to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. They tell us they have no comment at this time.
“I want to take this opportunity to express my sadness that youth under the church’s supervision were abused.” Bishop Ronald Gainer, Roman Catholic Dioceses of Harrisburg said.
Wednesday, Bishop Ronald Gainer issued an apology.
It comes ahead of what’s expected to be a scathing 900 page grand jury report released to the public detailing decades of sexual abuse at six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Harrisburg.
“Many of those victimized as children, continue as survivors to suffer from the harm they have experienced.” Gainer said.
The Harrisburg Diocese releasing the names of 71 priests and others with ties to the church accused of the abuse dating back to the 1940s.
The diocese decided to take immediate action.
“I have determined that anyone who has been accused of sexual misconduct and appears on our list, will have his name removed from any place of honor throughout the diocese.” Gainer said.
WJZ confirmed at least 2 of the accused clergymen were also named on a list of accused priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore back in 2002. They have since passed.
Bishop Gainer also declared that the names of every bishop that’s served Harrisburg since 1947 would also be wiped from the church, for failing to take adequate action against the allegations- that includes the late, former Archbishop of Baltimore, Cardinal William Keeler.
Keeler served as a bishop in Harrisburg from 1983 to 1989.
During his time as leader in Baltimore, Cardinal Keeler was praised for disclosing the names of more than 50 priests involved in a sex abuse scandal in Baltimore back in 2002.
“What we’re releasing will cause pain to some of them but it will bring great relief to others.” Keeler said.
“Predators go where the children are. It’s camps, it’s schools, it’s faith-based institutions.” Joyce Lombardi with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center said.
Lombardi is calling the move from Bishop Gainer to release the names and hold the past bishops accountable is empowering.
“Seeing them brought to justice and predators, predators finally getting justice and victims being believed and supported is huge for healing the trauma.” Lombardi said.