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Catholic university in Pennsylvania rescinds honors given to bishops implicated in sexual abuse scandal

Aug. 21, 2018
The University of Scranton is renaming 3 buildings that carried the names of bishops that covered up instances of priests' sexual abuse

The University of Scranton, a Catholic institution in Scranton, Pa., has announced that it is renaming buildings that had honored bishops who have implicated by a grand jury for covering up sexual abuse by priests.

A letter from University President Scott R. Pilarz, a Jesuit priest, says the school "will rescind honorary degrees and rename campus buildings recognizing Bishops Jerome D. Hannan, J. Carroll McCormick and James C. Timlin....These Bishops covered up the crimes and misdeeds of men who were under their jurisdiction and placed children in harm's way."

A grand jury in Pennsylvania released a 1,300-page report last week detailing sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the state. It saiid that more than 300 priests from six Catholic dioceses had been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children in incidents going back as long as 70 years.

The report says the evidence showed that church leaders brushed aside the accusations and chose to protect the abusers.

In announcing the renaming of buildings, Rev. Pilarz said: "These actions are important, but the gravity of the information we now know demands even more of us. As a Catholic and Jesuit university founded by the Diocese of Scranton, The University of Scranton will strive together with the people of the Diocese and Catholics everywhere to address the difficult but necessary questions that arise from the grand jury report."

The renamed buildings:

•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. In her life, she faced persecution and excommunication, during which she was assisted by the Jesuits until later being absolved.

•The name on Timlin House will be removed and Mulberry Plaza, the complex in which the building is situated, will be renamed Romero Plaza in honor of Oscar Romero, the former Archbishop of San Salvador, who will be canonized by Pope Francis in October. He was slain in 1980 while saying mass in San Salvador.
•Hannan Hall will be renamed Giblin-Kelly Hall in honor of Brendan J. Giblin ’06 and William H. Kelly Jr. ’93. Giblin was a graduating senior at Scranton and co-captain of the swim team when he was killed while on Spring Break in Panama City. Kelly worked for Bloomberg, LP and was attending a conference at the World Trade Center, Tower One, on Sept. 11. 2001, when he was killed in the attack that destroyed those buildings.
"In choosing to honor St. MacKillop, Archbishop Romero, Brendan and Bill, we hold up the example of their lives as a reminder always to be a voice against abuse and violence no matter the cost, to champion the poor and oppressed, and to treasure the bonds of friendship and community that are at the heart of The University of Scranton," says Rev. Pilarz.

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