Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik to respond to abuse, listening sessions
Bishop David Zubik, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, will soon issue a pastoral letter that offers an action plan to try and move forward in the wake of the grand jury report chronicling decades of sexual abuse in the church.
The letter will address issues related to sexual abuse, as well as accountability and transparency in church governance, finances and leadership, according a preview of the letter released Friday by Pittsburgh Catholic, the newspaper of the diocese.
The letter, titled “The Church Healing,” is expected to be released before Ash Wednesday on March 6.
“People raised important questions, not only about abuse, but about accountability, transparency and leadership within the Church of Pittsburgh,” Zubik told Pittsburgh Catholic. “I want them to know that I heard their concerns, and am responding with actions. Some of these actions have already begun and some will be implemented in the near future.”
On the issue of financial transparency, Zubik plans to expand membership in the Diocesan Finance Council, a group of lay people intended to oversee financial matters. He will also establish an independent, third-party reporting system for suspected financial, professional or personal misconduct, according to Pittsburgh Catholic.
Zubik will lay out plans for diocese-sponsored support groups and spiritual retreats for abuse survivors. A new Secretariat for the Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable adults will also be formed to respond to victims and prevent future abuse, according to Pittsburgh Catholic.
The letter was promised in late 2018 as Zubik and the Pittsburgh diocese conducted a series of listening sessions with the region’s Catholic community regarding the grand jury report.
Over the course of four public sessions held throughout the Pittsburgh diocese from late November through early December, members of the Catholic community — some of them survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy, lay people or members of religious orders within the diocese — shared criticism, reflections and questions with Zubik.
At the time, Zubik declined to make comments on or respond to what he heard during those sessions, except to offer his apologies to abuse survivors and parishioners.
“I really am very sorry,” Zubik said at the close of the first listening session, held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood on Nov. 29. “Not empty words. I’m sorry that you suffered because of the church.”
He assured Catholics that a more complete response would be included in a pastoral letter to be released on or before Ash Wednesday in 2019.
The letter will be posted on the diocese website at www.diopitt.org/churchhealing.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .