In February 1998, the Bishop of Scranton was the Most Reverend James C. Timlin. He was the man who should have been responsible for taking action to protect children who were the victims of predator priests in his diocese. He seems to have been a complete failure. He oversaw the diocese’s mishandling of a high visibility case involving Father Robert Caparelli. Who knows how many other complaints against other priests he kept quiet during his tenure? Bishop Timlin is currently Bishop Emeritus in Scranton.
Bishop Timlin issued two documents dated 2 February 1998. The first was a precept. A precept is a command to an individual that enjoins that person to do or not do something, especially in order to compel obedience of a law, regulation or directive. In this case the precept ordered Father Gibson to stop representing himself as a Diocesan priest and to stop wearing clerical attire.
The second document was a decree that ordered Father Gibson to cease all ministerial activity. Oddly enough, the decree was issued for reasons of “health”. Reasons of Health? Is that what they call it at the Chancery when a priest has been accused of and admitted to molesting and raping children?
It is almost comical that the precept and the decree were both issued on Groundhog Day. I wonder if the Chancellor stuck his head out the window that morning and saw six more victims lining up to file reports.
I would imagine these documents enjoyed a very limited release as to not allow the parishioners, the police or the press to find out that the Diocese of Scranton was hiding another pedophile. By the time these documents were issued, Father Gibson had already been removed from the Diocese and, more importantly, the jurisdiction that could have sought criminal penalties against this monster. Father Gibson was sent to the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri.
This was a continuation of the Diocese’s policy of keeping things quiet and secret. You would think that they would have learned after the Father Caparelli case came to light in the 1990’s. Father Caparelli was convicted of sexually molesting boys and died in prison of AIDS in 1994. Is it possible that the diocese had a more prolific child rapist on its hands in the person of Father Gibson? We don’t know because the veil of secrecy still protects Father Gibson.
When are they going to learn? When are the parishioners in the Diocese of Scranton going to start holding there church leaders to account for their actions? More importantly, when are the public safety and judicial organizations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania going to step in and dismantle this criminal conspiracy aimed at protecting pedophiles?