PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the wake of scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse, mass attendance is down in the Pittsburgh Diocese and those still left in the pews are contributing less.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “They don’t want to give donations to pay for the sins of the fathers.”
Fr. Lou Vallone: “And it’s understandable.”
Parishioners are concerned that their donations will be going to lawyers and lawsuit settlements related to decades of clergy sex abuse. Many were surprised to learn that the diocese continues to financially support the accused.
Now, KDKA has confirmed that at least six priests named in the grand jury report are living on the grounds of St. Paul Seminary, at St. John Vianney Manor, a newly-renovated retirement home for priests. The diocese won’t comment except to say that it is obligated to provide for them in retirement.
Named in the grand jury and living at St. John Vianney are fathers John Fitzgerald, Edward Kryston, David Scharf, Paul Spisak and Richard Terdine. Richard Lelonis, whose name is redacted in the report, is also living at the manor house.
“They’re human beings. They’ve got to be somewhere. We don’t have capital punishment for abusers,” said Fr. Vallone.
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- Pa. Dioceses, Including Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, Setting Up Victim Funds For Sexual Abuse Victims
- Pa. Senate Session Ends With No Vote On Church Abuse Bill
- 301 ‘Predator Priests’ Named In Pa. Grand Jury Sex Abuse Report: ‘They Were Raping Little Boys & Girls’
- Additional Reports
The diocese says while these priests have been accused of sexual crimes and removed from ministry, none have been determined guilty by the Vatican. Until that happens, Fr. Vallone, recently retired priest, says under canon — or church — law, the diocese is required to care for them.
Fr. Vallone: “The church will not allow the priesthood to live and die in a dumpster, and even though this individual person may not be deserving of support, you got to give support to that person because you got to preserve the dignity of the priesthood.”
Sheehan: “What if people don’t agree with that?”
Fr. Vallone: “People don’t agree with a lot of our teaching. This happens to be one of them.”