The bad news is that even though the recent grand jury report in Pennsylvania listed more than 300 Catholic Church leaders, past and present, who were credibly accused of child sexual abuse, Kevin Lonergan, of the Allentown Diocese, wasn’t on that list… and he just got accused of (wait for it) child sexual abuse. Specifically, he’s been accused of “inappropriately touching and sending nude images of himself to a 17-year-old girl.”
The good news? Well, there’s no good news, but the silver lining, if you will, is how the Church responded.
Upon hearing of the allegation in June, the diocese reported it to District Attorney Jim Martin’s office and removed Lonergan from his assignment, the diocese said in a statement. Lonergan is “forbidden from all priestly ministry pending the results of the investigation,” the diocese said. Both Martin and the diocese said Bishop Alfred Schlert wanted to report the diocese’s action immediately, but waited for the criminal investigation to proceed.
Look at that. No transferring the priest. No covering up for his crimes. No making excuses. No secrecy. Just reporting him to the authorities, kicking him out of the Church (pending the investigation), and letting the justice system handle it.
They don’t deserve special credit for doing what’s expected. It’s still troubling that this happens in the Church at all. But I wonder what its leaders would’ve done had the grand jury investigation not been in the works when this crime was first reported. If the report put pressure on Church leaders to handle these cases properly, then Lonergan may be the first Catholic casualty after the grand jury investigation.
(Thanks to Michael for the link)