PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The University of Scranton says they are rescinding honorary degrees of three bishops and stripping their names from campus buildings following a grand jury report which details child sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and religious leaders’ efforts to cover it up.
Scott R. Pilarz, the university’s president, made the announcement in a letter to the university on Monday.
“With sympathy for and in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Scranton, The University of Scranton will rescind honorary degrees and rename campus buildings recognizing Bishops Jerome D. Hannan, J. Carroll McCormick, and James C. Timlin. As documented in the report, these Bishops covered up the crimes and misdeeds of men who were under their jurisdiction and placed children in harm’s way,” said Pilarz.
The university says Hannan Hall will be renamed Giblin-Kelly Hall in honor of the late Brendan J. Giblin ’06 and William H. Kelly Jr. ’93.
McCormick Hall will be renamed MacKillop Hall in honor of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, an Australian nun who founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and who publicly exposed the sexual abuse of children by a priest.
The name on Timlin House will be removed and Mulberry Plaza, the complex in which the building is located, will be renamed Romero Plaza in honor of the late Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who will be canonized by Pope Francis on October 14.
The Pennsylvania grand jury, convened by the state attorney general’s office in 2016, heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed more than a half-million pages of internal documents from the Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses.
The report found that in the Scranton diocese, a priest named Thomas Skotek allegedly raped a young girl, got her pregnant and arranged and abortion. In the Pittsburgh diocese, the report states that one boy was forced to strip naked and pose as Christ on the Cross for priests while taking photos of him that they added to a child porn collection that was shared on church grounds.
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