PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been subpoenaed by the state Attorney General’s Office as part of an investigation into the allegations of sex abuse by priests.
In a statement, Bishop David Zubik says the Diocese will cooperate fully with investigators.
“We immediately responded to the Attorney General’s wish and said that we would cooperate fully,” said Bishop Zubik. “They were very specific about asking us to prepare to turn any files over that we had on accusations that were made against anybody about sexual misconduct with children, whether that’s credible or not credible.”
The statement reads:
“In the ongoing need to protect children from abuse, I welcome the opportunity to work closely with the state attorney general’s office. In his cover letter to me, Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye wrote that “our efforts do not have to be adversarial. . . . Our work to protect children and seek the truth should be a joint endeavor.” I could not agree more. We are absolutely committed to protecting children from abuse.
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh is cooperating fully with the grand jury by turning over records requested of the diocese. It is my hope that this is a first step toward the government working with all institutions to address this serious matter.
“I ask your prayers for all victim-survivors and their families. May God guide everyone in efforts to provide comfort and healing to victim-survivors of abuse. May God enlighten everyone engaged in this legal process.”
Bishop Zubik says he hopes the investigation brings an end to the abuse of children.
“My hope is that this process will be helpful in eradicating the horrific act of child sexual abuse,” said Bishop Zubik. “My hope is that the way that we’ve been handling this is a manner that’s helpful to securing an end to child sexual abuse; and at the same time, as the Attorney General’s Office has a chance to review those files, if they have recommendations of how we can do things better, we are certainly open to doing that.”
A state grand jury is investigating allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Allentown and Harrisburg dioceses.
Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi, who has said he was abused by an eastern Pennsylvania priest more than three decades ago, said he testified before the grand jury several weeks ago in Pittsburgh.
Rozzi declined to provide details on his testimony. But he said “people are going to be really, really shocked, saddened, dismayed when they find out what really happened in the Allentown Diocese.”
Clergy sex abuse erupted into a national crisis for the Catholic Church in 2002 when The Boston Globe persuaded a judge to unseal personnel files in the Archdiocese of Boston.
The revelations about bishops moving abusive priests among parishes without warning parents or police caused an uproar that forced American dioceses to investigate how they had dealt with abusers and treated victims going back decades.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese was hit by one of the worst scandals. A grand jury in 2005 accused it of covering up decades of abuse by dozens of priests. Then in 2011, another grand jury said the archdiocese had kept on assignment more than three dozen priests facing serious abuse allegations.
In March, a state grand jury report said two former bishops who led the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese had helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by priests and other religious leaders over 40 years. One of the bishops died in 2005; the other, who is retired, has denied any wrongdoing.
The attorney general’s office later confirmed it was using a grand jury to investigate other Catholic dioceses as well.
Jeffrey Johnson, a spokesman for the attorney general, said he could not comment on the lawmaker’s claim, but he said a hotline set up after the Altoona-Johnstown report has generated calls from beyond that diocese.
Dioceses across the country have paid more than $3 billion on settlements with victims since the 1950s, according to the church’s own studies and news reports.
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