HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Bishop Ronald Gainer has repeatedly apologized to victims of clergy abuse and he did so again on Tuesday after the release of a grand jury report alleging widespread abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses.
“I understand anyone who hears or reads this report and finds it to be unsettling, shocking, even disgusting. I find that myself,” Gainer said in an exclusive interview with abc27 News.
Gainer said bishops should be held to a higher standard and none of his predecessors lived up to it because they put the reputation of the church and priests ahead of keeping kids safe.
“Not that they acted out themselves, but they failed to do enough to protect children.”
Has he failed to do enough?
“I hope not,” he answered.
But the grand jury report criticizes Gainer for writing a letter about pedophile priest Joseph Pease. In the letter, Gainer writes that he believes the harm done by Pease’s past sexual misconduct is “sufficiently repaired.”
He later added that Pease, who has Alzheimer’s, “should be allowed to live out his remaining years in prayer and penance.”
“It might sound like a slight slap on the wrist,” Gainer said. “It is not. Those men already had no ministry, were never allowed to dress clerically, use the name ‘father,’ or identify themselves as Catholic priests,” he said.
Certainly, victims would suggest that’s a light penalty compared to what they had to suffer.
What point does Gainer think grand jurors were making by including him?
“I took it more as having a callous attitude toward survivors and not doing the maximum that could’ve been done,” he said.
Gainer insisted the church has proper safeguards to keep kids safe. Although the report is a black eye for the men in black, he hopes victims are strengthened and comforted by it.
“This is a good day for them to get this terrible darkness out into the light.”