Bishop Zubik reflects on clergy sex abuse scandal a year after grand jury report
Bishop David Zubik outlined a renewed commitment to healing victims, financial transparency and continued listening one year after the release of the state’s grand jury report on child sex abuse by Catholic clergy.
“The church is profoundly indebted to those courageous victims/survivors who have helped us grow in understanding the damage caused by sexual abuse and of how the church community can offer them understanding and support,” Zubik, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, said in a statement released Wednesday.
The grand jury report from August 2018 documented allegations of child sexual abuse by 301 Catholic priests and the subsequent cover-ups by church officials. It covered six of the state’s eight dioceses — including those in Greensburg and Pittsburgh — and identified 1,000 victims.
Church leaders have since established compensation funds amid growing calls for changes in the statute of limitations law that could make the church liable in court for incidents dating back decades.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the grand jury report unleashed a wave of new abuse reports. As of Aug. 7, his office had logged 1,862 new complaints since the 2018 release of the report.
To that, Zubik said the diocese is “grateful and humbled” by the victims who have “reached out to help us help them.”
“It is my prayer that all victims/survivors will feel welcome and have a sense of belonging in our parishes, to whatever extent they desire to be involved in the church,” he said.
Upon the release of the report last year, Zubik said the diocese would enlist help from an expert to review church practices and make suggestions for improvements.
That review was completed in May by Shay Bilchik, director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, a former prosecutor specializing in cases of child abuse and juvenile delinquency. Bilchik said the diocese has taken “early and aggressive” steps to protect children in its care and has worked hard in making the diocese an unwelcoming place for child predators.
A video and summary of his report are available at diopitt.org/churchhealing-one-year-later.
Zubik said the past year has been a time of grieving and repentance but expects that Catholics will move forward in unity.
“Pittsburgh is a resilient region, with a unique spirit and sense of community,” he said. “People draw together to see each other through hard times and come out stronger. Today, we look to the church of the future.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, [email protected] or via Twitter .