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Allegheny

Trib reporter Debra Erdley to interview Erie Bishop Persico at Edinboro University event

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, 11:45 a.m.
Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Catholic Diocese of Erie
Diocese of Erie
Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Catholic Diocese of Erie

Tribune-Review veteran news reporter Debra Erdley on Tuesday will interview Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Catholic Diocese of Erie as part of a public event at Edinboro University.

Erdley and Persico will appear as part of the ongoing Uncomfortable Conversations series at the Erie County university. This installment is called “A Church in Crisis: A Local Diocese’s Response.”

A statewide grand jury spent two years examining clergy sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Persico was the only bishop to take Attorney General Josh Shapiro up on an invitation to address the grand jury.

Persico, a Monessen native, served in the Greensburg diocese before being named in 2012 to head the church in Erie.

As he appeared before the grand jury, he was preparing to publicly list the names of priests and layworkers in the Erie diocese who faced credible accusations of sexual abuse.

Later, as bishops elsewhere raised objections to the grand jury’s nearly 900-page report, Persico publicly stated his support for it being released. Every bishop in Pennsylvania eventually did likewise.

Erdley will sit for an hourlong public interview, including a 15-minute question-and-answer session, with Persico. The forum is open to the public. It begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the multipurpose room at Pogue Student Center, Edinboro University.

“We’ll find out how and why the soft-spoken bishop broke ranks with his colleagues,” Erdley said. “And we’ll ask what the man some have promoted as a candidate for higher leadership in the church sees for the future as the Catholic church wrestles with what many consider the most serious challenge to its authority since the Reformation.”

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