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“Soul Murder”: Grand Jury Says Hundreds Were Abused by Priests in Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/02/16

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 

After the tolling of the noon hour Tuesday at the magnificent domed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, whose towering perch above this historic railroad town reflects the Catholic Church’s long powerful presence in central Pennsylvania, the Rev. Dennis Kurdziel left little doubt for whom the bell tolled. “Pray for the victims,” said Father Kurdziel in a somber noontime Mass, held less than two hours after the release of a state grand jury report finding that hundreds of children were abused by at least 50 priests and others associated with the church in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown across nearly half a century. “Pray for your bishop,” added Father Kurdziel, associate pastor of the cathedral. “Pray for your priests. I need your prayers. Ask for God’s help, even on this very ugly day.” And with that, the congregation of several dozen bowed in extended silent prayer before resuming the Mass liturgy. Across town at the Blair County Convention Center, authorities were releasing a catalog of horrors in a 147-page report by the 37th Statewide Investigating Grand jury, which spent nearly two years delving into the case. Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma by clerics whose abuses were covered up by their bishops, other superiors and even compliant law-enforcement officials in Blair and Cambria counties, the report said. The conspiracy amounted to “soul murder,” the report said, with abuse happening everywhere from camps and homes to the historic cathedral itself. That description echoes that of similar grand jury probes into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011 that found cardinals and other clerics shifted numerous known abusers from one unsuspecting parish to another. Attorney General Kathleen Kane called it a “day of reckoning” for abusers and their enablers but lamented that no one could be criminally charged.

Read more. 

Photo: Wikipedia

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