SCRANTON, Pa. -- A bishop banned from representing the diocese he used to head was spotted attending a bishop's conference this week.
Bishop James Timlin is the former head of the Diocese of Scranton. His name figured prominently in a scathing report released by the state attorney general's office detailing sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
Timlin is in Baltimore, but the current bishop told Timlin he shouldn't go.
The Diocese of Scranton's Bishop Joseph Bambera is attending an annual conference in Baltimore along with other bishops across the country. Also in attendance, is Bishop James Timlin, despite being banned from representing the Diocese of Scranton, and despite being asked not to attend.
A statewide grand jury report released in August by the attorney general accused former Bishop James Timlin of mishandling child sex abuse cases while he was bishop, and shortly after, the Diocese of Scranton's current Bishop Bambera banned Timlin from publicly representing the diocese.
However, Timlin was photographed along with other bishops, attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Baltimore this week.
According to a statement from the Diocese of Scranton, while Bishop Timlin is forbidden from representing the diocese, membership in the USCCB and attendance at conferences is beyond the control of Bishop Bambera. Bishop Bambera asked Timlin not to attend.
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"That is something between those two bishops. I can tell you, I've known Bishop Timlin since he was my teacher in eighth grade. I've never known him to be anything but kind and forgiving. The Catholic Church is supposed to be forgiving. I don't think they should make it easy for people to do things that they shouldn't do," said John Carr of Nicholson.
Parishioners going into midday Mass had mixed opinions about Bishop Timlin attending.
"It doesn't bother me because the whole point of church is God, not Bishop Timlin, or the priests or the sacristans or anyone else. It bothers me that they're elevated to this important point."
Still, others found it inappropriate to disregard the request of the diocese's current bishop.
"You have to follow the bishop's opinion, and if he says something, you have to follow his orders. He disobeyed an order. He shouldn't have been there. He went beyond his authority," said Don Hewitt.
A Diocese of Scranton spokesperson wouldn't say what Bishop Timlin's role is at this conference, and we also asked who is paying for Timlin's attendance there. The spokesperson wouldn't comment on that either.