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As a result of the various sexual abuse pay outs through the U.S. private personnel data files of abusive priests have been released. One notable discovery from these records is the degree to which bishops moved priests from a parish that they had been accused of sexual abuse to an alternative parish to continue within the ministry.
Bishops were identified to have moved priests without supplying a reason that explain why. Priests were said to be on sick leave or affected by lethargy then quietly taken away to a different location. Priests charged with sexual abuse were shielded from consequences and continued collecting housing and living expenses. Even every time a priest’s abuse became known to the community, he would be transferred to a parish where no person knew of his abusive history.
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Bishops as well as other high level leaders inside the diocese would hold the knowledge of a transferred priest’s actions to themselves, containing them in secret files within the diocese. Even priests who confessed to abusing children were returned to ministry often to abuse kids inside the new location.
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A good example discovered within the Pennsylvania grand jury analysis was Father Ernest Paone of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In the first nine years of his ministry, Father Paone was transferred to five various parishes. In 1962, a pastor was required to intervene to stop Father Paone from being arrested for molestation, and the diocese’s solution was to transfer him to a parish in a new city. Father Paone continued to be in the ministry enjoying help of the church until finally his resignation in 2003.
Also in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Father George Zirwas was issued to eight unique parishes from 1979-1995 when he was placed on a leave of absence. Diocese information revealed that Father Zirwas started getting claims of child abuse against him in 1987 that continued until finally his leave of absence. In the Diocese of Scranton, Father Robert N. Caparelli was transported to six different parishes after his ordination in 1964 until he was freed of duties in 1991. Less than four years after commencing his ministry, the bishop was contacted by a cop warning him of Father Caparelli’s wrong doings with 2 altar boys.
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Father Caparelli was transferred to another parish and stories of child abuse continued to follow him to subsequent parishes. Father Joseph M. Pease from the Diocese of Harrisburg, was an additional illustration discussed in the Pennsylvania grand jury report. Father Pease was relocated to many different parishes in his 40 years of ministry in the diocese in spite of facing several allegations of sexual abuse.
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