Cases against priests found to be credible

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - Updated: 12:52 pm

The Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Independent Review Board has reached a determination regarding cases of four priests who have been on administrative leave after being accused of having sexually abused minors: Richard Lelonis (who died Oct. 20, 2019), John Bauer, Bernard Costello and Joseph Reschick.

The diocese instated a rigorous safe environment policy in 2002, which continues to be regularly evaluated and updated, and requires that all allegations be reported to law enforcement and evaluated by an independent review board. In keeping with this policy, the cases involving the above-mentioned clergy went to the Independent Review Board, which found that, based on the evidence brought forward, the accusations are credible.

The Independent Review Board also recommended that Bishop David Zubik not return these clergy to ministry, which he has accepted.

The earliest accusation pertains to abuse alleged to have occurred in the 1960s. The other accusations involve incidents alleged to have occurred throughout the 1970s and ‘80s.

The next step in the policy involves forwarding the cases to the Vatican, which is required by canon law. The Vatican will review all the information presented and issue a decision regarding the future clerical status of the priests. The timeline for that review will be determined by the Vatican.

While this process continues, these clergy remain on administrative leave and may not engage in public ministry, dress as priests or otherwise present themselves as priests in good standing.

Catholics are asked to pray for peace and healing for all victims/survivors.

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