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Bishop of Scranton Responds to Grand Jury Report

SCRANTON, Pa. — At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the Bishop of Scranton called the attorney general’s report horrific, heartbreaking, and dem...

SCRANTON, Pa. -- At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the Bishop of Scranton called the attorney general's report horrific, heartbreaking, and demoralizing.

In the Diocese of Scranton, 59 priests were mentioned in the report. The diocese listed the priests on its website as well.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the more than 800-page grand jury report details decades of child sex abuse committed by more than 300 priests in six dioceses in Pennsylvania.

Joseph Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, addressed the grand jury report detailing the decades of abuse allegedly committed by priests in six dioceses in Pennsylvania, including Scranton.

Bishop Bambera called the details of the report "the darkest hours of our church's history."

"I apologize this afternoon. I apologize to victims," said Bishop Bambera.  "No words that I share will ever be able to take away the pain that you have and continue to experience in your lives, nor can I fully understand what you have and continue to go through. But you need to hear from me that not only do I apologize, but the church clearly let you down when individuals that you should have been able to trust stole your childhood and stole some of the heart and soul of any human being's life."

"In this difficult time, if there are any positive things that can be drawn from this moment, it is that victims finally have their voices being heard, individually and collectively, and are being listened to and understood and validated," he added.

In a shocking allegation, the report claims retired Scranton Bishop James Timlin is one of those leaders.

The report points to a case in the 1980`s where a priest, Thomas Skotek, allegedly raped a teenage girl in Freeland, then arranged for her to get an abortion. Sharipo alleges Bishop Timlin paid her family $75,000 for their silence.

Timlin continues to fulfill duties for the Diocese of Scranton.

“The fact of the matter is there are things that he did that I would not have done, but we need to look at this rather carefully,” said Bambera.

Bishop Bambera says Bishop Timlin has no upcoming events for diocese planned at this time.

Bambera says removing Timlin from any functions for the diocese would be a decision ultimately made by the pope.

"Bishop Timlin is retired. He is 91 years of age. He does not have an official assignment. I acknowledge that in the past he has been supportive of the diocese in helping fulfill various functions around the diocese including confirmations. At this juncture, the bishop does not have any functions on his calendar for the foreseeable future and that is certainly an issue that we will have to look at more carefully."

The report was put together through testimony as well as reports of abuse from the dioceses that were known to priests as "secret archives." Those were kept hidden from the public but no longer are.

“We offered up over 250,000 pages of documents, spanning 70 years,” said Bambera.

Bishop Bambera also recorded a video message that's been posted to the diocesan social media sites, as well as his own. That recording will be played at all masses in the diocese this weekend.

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