WILKES-BARRE — On the heels of The University of Scranton making similar moves, King’s College has announced plans to rescind prior actions taken to honor Diocese of Scranton bishops implicated in the scathing grand jury report on priest sex abuse.
A statement issued by the college notes King’s “has been reviewing the report with leaders of other local Catholic colleges and universities, board members and members of the college community to determine appropriate responses in accordance with Bishop (Joseph) Bambera’s edict that ‘child sexual abuse cannot be tolerated and must be eradicated.’”
King’s granted an honorary degree to Bishop James C. Timlin, accused in the report of covering up priest sex abuse. The college is considering rescinding that degree, the statement said.
The campus also gave prominent honors to Bishop J. Carroll McCormick by naming the campus ministry center after him, and the statement notes the college is also in the process of rescinding past honors “including building names and honorary degrees.”
Plans call for the ministry center to be moved to a former church on North Street purchased by the school. That building is in the process of being renovated with expansion for meeting space on the west side.
Timlin, 91, is awaiting possible action by the pope following the state grand jury report, which accused him of failing to remove a priest from service after the priest raped a young girl and impregnated her, then arranged an abortion. Bambera has pointed out only the pope can take official church action against a bishop.
In releasing the report, Attorney General Josh Shapiro singled out that incident and a letter Timlin wrote offering condolences and support. The letter, Shapiro said with obvious disdain, was to the priest and not the victim.
McCormick, who died in 1996, was bishop when abuse charges were first leveled with Hazleton police against the Rev. Robert Caparelli in 1968. The report claims McCormick was told of the charge by a Hazleton police officer, and the bishop confronted Caparelli and wrote a “secret note” in confidential diocesan archives. Caparelli was sent to a retreat house but ultimately returned to parish assignments.
Caparelli went on to become arguably the first publicly prominent case of sexual abuse in the diocese when he was arrested in 1991. Timlin was bishop at the time, and asked the judge for leniency. Caparelli died in prison in 1994.
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