PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On August 14, 2018, a Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was released on child sexual abuse by the Catholic church.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh and Bishop David Zubik released a statement reflecting on the year since.
“This year has been a time of grieving, of repentance for the harm done to the people at the hands of priests who were expected to be trusted spiritual leaders,” Zubik said. “It has also been a time for the heart of the Church to deepen its understanding of what victims/survivors have endured and to reach out in new ways to help them heal spiritually.”
One year ago, Zubik and the Diocese took steps to prevent future abuse as well as ways to respond to victims and survivors. They commissioned a study that was completed in May 2019 by Shay Bilchik from the Center for Juvenile Reform at Georgetown University. Bilchik is a former prosecutor that specialized in child abuse.
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh has taken early and aggressive steps to protect children in its care,” Bilchik wrote in his study. “In fact, my overall finding related to their current practices is that the Diocese of Pittsburgh has worked hard in making the diocese an unwelcoming place for child predators.”
In March 2019, Bishop Zubik detailed a five-point action plan in a pastoral letter, “The Church Healing;” Healing and enhanced support for victims and survivors, their families and loved ones, greater financial transparency, increased accountability, ongoing spiritual and human formation for clergy and seminarians and continued listening to seek truth and reconciliation.
A commission of both Catholic and non-Catholic experts on prevention, detection and healing of child sexual abuse known as the Church Healing Commission was also formed as part of those five points.
“Pittsburgh is a resilient region, with a unique spirit and sense of community,” Zubik continued in his statement. “People draw together to see each other through hard times and come out stronger.”