'Not on His Watch' the Bishop Must End Cover-up

The Tribune-Democrat [Altoona-Johnstown PA]
March 02, 2003

Bishop Joseph Adamec, the normally tough-talking leader of the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese, suddenly appears to have lost his voice. Adamec is refusing to discuss what he is doing in response to allegations of sex abuse by four priests in the diocese.

The disclosures were the topic of a two-part report last week in The Tribune-Democrat by staff writer Susan Evans. She spent five months researching and investigating what appear to be more tragic incidents of sex abuse by priests.

Adamec's lack of responsiveness is distressing members of the Church, some of whom have demanded that he step down. They rightly believe that the bishop's inaction is contrary to the Church's newly adopted national zero-tolerance policy - a stance specifically developed by Catholic leaders to deal with sex scandals that have forced 325 priests and four bishops to resign since January 2002.

And to make things worse, Adamec is indicating that if incidents of sex abuse took place, they were not on his watch. That's as if he was given license to turn his back and wash his hands of the horrors that made life a hell on earth for many people in his diocese.

If abuse didn't occur on his watch, then, it seems apparent that he is continuing a cover-up by his predecessor, Bishop James J. Hogan. Hogan dealt with allegations of abuse by simply transferring priests from church to church and lying to congregants.

Adamec needs to rapidly restore the diocese's credibility. He must come clean by promising a thorough investigation into the allegations, especially since it is believed that three of the four priests still have positions within the church.

Last year, Adamec scored public relations points among congregants by meeting with the press and vigorously promising to investigate allegations of sex abuse in his diocese.

In the light of reality, those promises seem to have been diverted into stony silence, clearly indicating that it's business as usual in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

It's no wonder that some of his parishioners want him to step down.

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