The Associated Press has learned, from anonymous sources, that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania. AP reports that U.S. Attorney William McSwain of Philadelphia has issued subpoenas seeking information on the clergy and seminarians who may have committed federal crimes. This follows the release in August of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on six dioceses in Pennsylvania.
A few years back, after one teacher, Brother Stephen Baker, in a northwestern Pennsylvania Catholic high school, was found to be an abuser in the 1990s, the Cambria County District Attorney asked the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, to launch a grand jury investigation into Bishop McCort Catholic High School.
Kane, who was subsequently found guilty on nine counts, including two felony perjury charges, dutifully complied. Next came a probe of six of the eight dioceses in the state (two had already been investigated).
The grand jury report by Kane’s successor, Josh Shapiro, was released in August. It was so incredibly delinquent—it is strewn with lies and unsubstantiated claims—that it occasioned a lawsuit by the Catholic League in September (it is before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court).
Why would the Trump administration decide to join the hunt for offending priests—most of whom are either dead or kicked out of the priesthood—at this juncture? If all it takes is one molester to trigger this avalanche of investigations, why is it that every other institution in Pennsylvania, beginning with the public schools, is free from scrutiny?
I have some suggestions for Mr. McSwain. He can begin by reading the Catholic League brief detailing the recklessness of Attorney General Shapiro. Then he should interview all the people named in our brief who contest the allegations made against them. Be sure to interview retired Bishop Donald Trautman and ask him about the lies made about him in the report. Ditto for Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
McSwain should then interview Shapiro and ask him why he won’t cooperate with those who are demanding the public release of a 10-year-old report on former East Stroudsburg University Vice President Isaac Sanders. He is charged with bribing students, sexually assaulting them, and forcing them to perform oral sex on him. Why is Shapiro protecting his buddies in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education who don’t want the truth known about one of their own?
The duplicity is sickening. We have one system of justice for the Catholic Church and one for everyone else. And now the Trump administration is jumping on board as well? Catholics need some fast answers.