Diocese of Harrisburg Holds Last Listening Session on Child Sex Abuse Report

BRIAR CREEK TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Catholics in Columbia County gathered once again for a meeting with the Bishop of Harrisburg Thursday night, this time at a parish near Berwick.

It was the last of 14 listening sessions hosted by Bishop Ronald Gainer to discuss child sex abuse inside the Catholic Church.

Catholics came out to Immaculate Conception Parish near Berwick for a somber but hopefully insightful meeting with the diocese of Harrisburg.

It was the last of 14 listening sessions hosted personally by Bishop Ronald Gainer to have a discussion with members of the faithful about the grand jury report that found thousands of children were abused by priests for decades in Pennsylvania.

People attending said it showed the diocese is willing to learn from past mistakes.

“I think to see the bishop here, trying to get the information from the people to find out what they want is absolutely awesome,” said Chris Perez from Bloomsburg.

“It's just such an awful situation but I feel like the way they're approaching it, being direct, the bishop and even the priests, hopefully, can bring about healing and more transparency,” said Mina Camaioni.

The diocese says it was grateful for all the participation and strong turnout.

“We've gotten to hear from a lot of survivors, we go to hear from a lot of parishioners, their concerns, their questions and the bishop was able to find more in-depth how they felt the church was moving forward,” said Mike Barley, the spokesperson for the diocese.

Meeting with those abuse victims that diocese to open the Survivors Compensation Program to provide funds to those hurt.

The diocese says one of the biggest things it learned from those survivors when putting together that compensation program is that many didn't just want money, they wanted to be heard.

“Survivors have a chance talk to someone, to come in and tell their story,” said Barley. “It's not just a form that you send in and you get a check. There's more of a pastoral element if they chose so.”

“It's like you're hiding in shadows, you can see this is what happened to me and this is how I feel about it and acknowledgment is part of it, yes,” said Bart Fisher from Berwick.

Another program the diocese has since implemented is the Youth Protection Program. A retired state police captain was hired to oversee that.

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