A Roman Catholic university in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said it is standing with victims of child sexual abuse by removing the names of three bishops from campus buildings and rescinding their honorary degrees.
The move is part of the growing fallout from a grand jury report that said a succession of church leaders helped cover up abuse by some 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania who victimized more than 1,000 children, and possibly many more, since the 1940s.
The names of bishops Jerome D. Hannan, J. Carroll McCormick and James C. Timlin will be scrubbed from the university "with sympathy and in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse," a letter sent to students, employees and alumni stated.
"As documented in the report, these Bishops covered up the crimes and misdeeds of men who were under their jurisdiction and placed children in harm’s way," the letter said.
Buildings will be renamed to highlight positive role models within the Catholic Church, according to the letter. New honorees include an Australian nun who publicly exposed the sexual abuse of children by a priest and the late Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who will be canonized by Pope Francis in October. He was killed in 1980 while saying mass in his native country.
Earlier this week, a Roman Catholic high school in Pennsylvania named for Cardinal Donald Wuerl was vandalized with paint. North Catholic High School is part of the Pittsburgh Diocese, where Wuerl was bishop from 1988 to 2006. Wuerl is now archbishop of Washington and accused to helping protect several priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Meanwhile, the Harrisburg diocese previously announced it was also holding past church leadership accountable for the sexual abuse of children by priests, and stripping from church properties the names of bishops going back 70 years.