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GREENSBURG (KDKA) — The first of at least seven “Listening Sessions” in the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, in the wake of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on Catholic clergy child sex abuse, was held Monday evening.
The Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg was more than three quarters filled with an estimated 300-400 people.
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Greensburg Bishop Edward Malesic began the session with a prayer, and referred to the current scandal as a dark episode in the Catholic Church’s history.
“It will be, I think, the most difficult thing I ever do is to address this subject,” Bishop Malesic said. “Victims were very much harmed, I feel that. I know that everyone in this church tonight knows that, too.”
Cameras were not allowed in the church during the question and answer session, to allow people to speak freely. The bishop told the group he was committed to not having someone who has abused a child in the church in the Diocese.
He said you cannot put the church ahead of the lives of children.
People asked questions like: “Why can’t priests marry?” and “Why can’t women become priests?” as well as “Why does the church seem to attract pedophiles?”
After the meeting ended, there was mixed reaction.
“Raw emotion, in some respects, yes. In others, it was more than I expected to see,” Kathleen Skalka, of Hempfield Township, said.
Darryl Smith, of Greensburg, added, “Everybody is a victim tonight here, with the things that have gone on in the past. I think the bishop is trying to do his best.”