I was going through kitchen cabinets tonight looking for one of my old Navy mugs when I stumbled on a University of Scranton Orientation ’81 mug. It was a thank you gift for the student volunteers who made Orientation go flawlessly for the class of ’85 during Labor Day Weekend, 1981. I was one of the Student Co-Directors that year. The fact this mug has survived transoceanic and cross country moves is impressive.
This weekend I am preparing for a trip back to Scranton. This journey is not going to be nostalgic, it will likely be adversarial. The event to which I am traveling is a discussion entitled Diocese of Scranton: Learning Lessons, Strengthening Safeguards & Empowering Survivors. It is being hosted by The University of Scranton’s Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation, and Hope.
I am going because I do not want a scenario where the Diocese can give the impression that the Sex Abuse Crisis is over or that they have done anything beyond the absolute minimum required to hold civil authorities at bay. I also want to see if they try to present Bishop Bambera as a benevolent shepherd who cares deeply for his flock.
The forum is a presentation by the Diocese, followed by answering questions submitted on cards. (I wonder who will be screening those cards?) If there is time, questions may be taken from the audience.
On the chance that my questions don’t make the cut, here is a sampling of what is rattling around my brain:
- Will the Diocese of Scranton declare bankruptcy in order to avoid paying awards out of the Independent Survivor Compensation Program (ISCP)? The number of applications is reported by people familiar with the process to be higher than the Diocese anticipated. When will all the Survivors with credible claims be offered a settlement?
- In the information provided to the Grand Jury Report, the Diocese provided information on Parish Assignments of the priests you identified as predators. Why was information on schools, camps, and retreat facilities in which these bad actors had access to children while in those parish assignments not provided?
- The Diocese has insisted on keeping information on predator priests confidential in order to protect survivors. Why are you victimizing survivors by turning them into human shields for the Diocese? (You did not protect me when I was thirteen, I find it laughable that the Diocese is feigning concern for me now.)
- The Bishop makes a point of reinforcing that parishioners are not funding settlements with survivors. If funds for the fund do not come from parishioners’ contributions, where does the ISCP money come from? Don’t real estate holdings, investments, and cash holdings within the diocese have their genesis in parishioner donations, offerings, bequests, and tithing? Is someone underwriting this effort? WHO?
- I was required to fill out a detailed questionnaire concerning the abuse I was subjected to by Robert Gibson when I was thirteen years old. When will the Diocese provide detailed information about the methods they used to protect predator priests, isolate victims, and keep priests out of the courtroom where they should have been prosecuted?
- Is there a victim file on me at the Diocese of Scranton? When will I get to review it?
- What agreements did the Diocese of Scranton have with other Dioceses, Archdioceses, religious orders, and the Vatican to facilitate the movement of pedophile priests out of this diocese to other parishes or treatment facilities?
- How much money has the Diocese of Scranton spent over the last seven decades on lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, public relations professionals, and investigators to silence victims, prevent pedophile priests from being identified in the justice system, or to kill legislation that would allow an extension of statutes of limitation for survivor to pursue criminal or civil cases?
Of course, the big question is “What the hell is wrong with you people?” How could you choose to protect predators over children?
I am wondering, even now if the event at the University is actually going to happen. This afternoon I had a couple of people up in Northeast Pennsylvania let me know that President Trump is doing a Town Hall Event at the Scranton Cultural Center on Thursday. Traffic will be a mess.
I should take a poll! Reasons the Diocese could use to cancel Thursday’s event: (Pick One)
- President is in town
- Corona Virus
- Weather (rain, snow, pestilence)
- Defensive Indifference
- A new episode of Young Sheldon airing Thursday on CBS
- St Caron Feast Day Social at the Chancery
- Fear of facing Survivors
I may see you in Scranton on Thursday.