The Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) released a Statement on Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church in November 2017 following the death of Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP. The continued relevance of our 2017 statement could not be more clear as the People of God respond to new reports of clergy abuse over the past weeks. CCA reaffirms our November 2017 statement and the calls to action contained within it.
The recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report is in many ways a window into the innerworkings of the hierarchy with global relevance for the Catholic community. As most of the dioceses contained in report fall within the Appalachian region, the report is also, in many ways, an expression of the Appalachian church that implicates a number of our bishops, both past and present.
The Pennsylvania report provokes Catholics in our region to reflect on both the global and regional causes and implications of sexual abuse in the Church. CCA’s 2017 statement began some of that reflection, and we remain committed to efforts to protect the vulnerable in our region and to work for church reforms necessary to address the roots of the problem.
Specifically, CCA calls for the following immediate actions. Although some Appalachian bishops have been publicly resistant to doing so, CCA insists that all bishops of the region release a statement of priests and bishops accused of sexual abuse within their dioceses. We also insist that each diocese disclose the amount which has been paid in settlements and legal costs related to abuse and make all documents pertaining to sexual abuse by clergy and bishops available to the proper authorities.