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Scranton bishop abuse concern to pope

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 3:51 p.m.

The bishop of the Diocese of Scranton agreed to pen a letter to Pope Francis warning about a priest accused of child molestation who has risen to second-in-command in a Paraguayan diocese.

At the request of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera said he shared their “outrage” at the ascension of Monsignor Carlos Urrutigoity, defended the actions of his predecessor, Bishop James Martino, but ignored the group's other far-reaching requests.

SNAP reproduced the bishop's letter on its website. Diocese of Scranton spokesman William Genello confirmed the reproduction of the letter is accurate and declined to comment further.

Bishop Bambera said he has no jurisdiction in another diocese, but he would express his personal concerns about Monsignor Urrutigoity to Vatican administrators.

“I have begun the process of bringing this dire situation to the attention of the Holy See in the hopes that the matter will immediately be examined further by those with competency over it,” he wrote. “My intention is to do all I can to make sure this matter is addressed appropriately and expeditiously.”

Martino “consistently expressed his grave reservations ... regarding Father Urrutigoity's past, troubling behaviors and the accusations that were lodged against him,” said Bambera, adding the priest “was identified as posing a serious threat to young people.”

Bambera reiterated his policy to immediately notify civil authorities of any reports of sexual abuse of a minor.

The bishop did not address the group's request that he release Urrutigoity's files and investigate if anyone in the diocese ignored or covered up the wrongdoing.

In February, Urrutigoity was named the vicar general, second-in-command, in the Diocese Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. In 2004, as a member of the Society of St. John, he was accused of sharing alcohol and a bed with students at St. Gregory's Academy in Elmhurst, Lackawanna County.

Since the allegations were outside of the statute of limitations, he was not charged criminally. A civil trial ended in a settlement.

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