Even after months of anticipation and preparation, this Editorial Board finds itself shocked, horrified and sickened by a Pennsylvania grand jury report released Aug. 14 outlining decades of child sexual abuse at the hands of more than 300 “predator priests” and its systematic cover-up by Catholic leaders in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. The report shares the stories of more than 1,000 child victims, though it speculates there likely are many more. Worse yet, as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in the press conference releasing the report, “Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse.” Even for a Church that is all too well versed in scandal, the details of the grand jury report — the most comprehensive report for any diocese or group of dioceses released in the United States — are nausea-inducing.
OSV Contributing Editor Brian Fraga’s piece gives an overview of the report, and we will provide further coverage in subsequent issues of this newspaper.
For any coverage of this painful story to be complete, and for any healing to begin, full transparency must first exist. That is why Our Sunday Visitor has chosen to use this space to communicate any known connections of significance with those accused or mentioned in the grand jury report and our publishing house.
• Offenders identified by the grand jury: Father Charles R. Ginder, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, was associated with Our Sunday Visitor in various capacities as a writer and editor from 1943 to 1968. Our files indicate that the relationship between OSV and Father Ginder ceased in July 1968. Barry Hudock, a former priest of the Diocese of Erie, has done freelance writing for various publications of OSV for the past seven years. He is no longer is affiliated with the company in any capacity.
• Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend also surface in the report as bishops who served in Pennsylvania. In a statement, Bishop Rhoades, the chairman of the board for OSV and former Bishop of Harrisburg, reiterated his “unwavering commitment to child safety.” Cardinal Wuerl has been associated with Our Sunday Visitor for more than 50 years. He has been published in both The Priest magazine and Our Sunday Visitor, and has authored many books. He has set up a website highlighting the steps he took toward child protection while Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988-2006 at thewuerlrecord.com.
• Also mentioned in the report, but not accused of any wrongdoing, was Father David Bonnar, current editor of The Priest magazine and priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Father Bonnar was mentioned in the report in his former capacity of vicar for clergy and secretary for parish life and ministerial leadership for the diocese. He also served as a point of contact from time to time with priests who had been removed from ministry.
As the Church continues to face the fallout from decades of clergy sexual abuse, Our Sunday Visitor pledges to remain committed to the transparency toward which the Church as a whole must constantly strive. We vow to report any public allegations that we may learn of involving any additional clergy in Pennsylvania or elsewhere who have had any connection to Our Sunday Visitor, and we invite you to join us in prayer and penance for the purification and renewal that the Church so desperately needs.