A woman from Enola spoke with us and doesn’t want her face seen, or her name identified, but she does want her voice heard.
“I can’t stress enough how much a part of my identity being Catholic was as I grew up,” she said. “[I’m] sad, disturbed, embarrassed at some level even to identify as a Catholic, and there’s a real feeling of betrayal.”
She is not alone, but are fewer faithful filling pews and collection baskets in the Harrisburg Diocese?
“Generally not, the faithful are still coming and they’re still committed to the church,” said Matt Haverstick, an attorney for the diocese.
Haverstick would not reveal the exact numbers on attendance or contributions since the scandal. He’s a little more forthcoming on the number of clergy abuse victims out there.
“A little over a hundred,” he said.
And how much money a newly created fund will need to help them.
“It is going to be real. It’s not a token effort or a phantom effort. This is going to be in a quantum of millions,” he said.
Haverstick insists collection plate money will not be used.
“It’s gonna be diocesan assets and we believe a healthy chunk of insurance money to defray the cost,” he said.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro says the fund is good, but not good enough.
“I do not believe that the church can be trusted to police itself,” he said.
Shapiro wants windows legislation which would let survivors name and sue their abusers even if the statute of limitations in their case has run out.
“We typically don’t let criminals be arbiters of their own punishment, and I don’t think we should in this case either,” said Shapiro.
Many priests named in the grand jury report are dead, but not all. After they get booted from the church, they’re out on the streets.
“My predator, case in point, is free as a bird and he lives just a matter of blocks away from a middle school, free as a bird, won’t be charged criminally and nobody knows it,” said Shaun Dougherty, a sexual abuse survivor.
Also little known: the church is paying big money for lawyers and lobbyists to block that legislation. Haverstick says open that window and church doors will slam shut.
“The Catholic church isn’t lobbying and never has lobbied to not take care of victims,” he said. “It doesn’t want to be sued out of existence by plaintiffs, lawyers that come in from out of state, sue, destroy the church and then go back to wherever they came from.”
Harrisburg attorney Ben Andreozzi is one of those lawyers who represents abuse victims. He says the church procedures are better now, children are safer now, but it must do penance for sins of the past.
“The Catholic church does great things. I’ve seen the Catholic church do great things, but I think before they can move in the right direction, all of the dirty laundry needs to be aired so they can start from scratch.
“Something is wrong with the Catholic church,” said the Enola woman.
The Diocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that its fund to pay victims of clergy abuse will start at $25 to 30 million.
It could be cutting checks within 60 days.
Survivors who take the money must waive their rights to sue.
The Diocese of Harrisburg will start a similar fund early next year.