President Condemns Pennsylvania “Predator Priests”


University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane addressed the question of “Who is the Fordham community?” in an email on Oct. 15.


University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., addressed the Fordham community on Aug 16 with a statement on Pennsylvania’s attorney general’s report. He stated that “as a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fordham unequivocally condemns the actions of the clergy and others who perpetrated and enabled the victimization of so many innocent children.”

A grand jury report released by the State Supreme Court on Aug. 14 revealed that over 70 years, an estimate of 300 priests abused at least 1,000 children in the state of Pennsylvania. In one of the nation’s largest investigations, running for 18 months, the members of the grand jury found evidence of abuse dating back to 1947.

They reported on child sexual abuse in six out of eight dioceses- Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton- and labelled the accused members of the clergy as “predator priests.”

McShane served as the President of the University of Scranton from 1998- 2003.

As written in the report, the number of victims is most likely higher than reported due to the lost records and those who are too afraid to come forward to report the abuses they have endured. Additionally, most of the records are too outdated in order for the priests to be rightfully prosecuted as the statute of limitations has run out.

McShane also addressed the “searing” crimes covered-up by the Church and its senior officials. He wrote that it was “equally painful” to see “the apparent lengths to which abusers were shielded from scrutiny of— and consequences for— their actions. Such actions are a disgrace for anyone: for members of the clergy devoted to the most vulnerable among us it is not merely shameful, but deeply sinful.”

According to the report, most of the victims who were subject to sexual assault were young boys, although some of the recorded cases involved girls and teenagers as well. “The pain and suffering visited upon innocent children can never be redeemed. Whatever paths their lives have taken, they will always bear the scars of their abuse.”

“In using their spiritual authority to justify the abuse, these priests have despoiled the Gospel and diminished their victims’ capacity for love, trust and faith,” wrote McShane.

McShane said that, as the upcoming fall semester approaches, the university “ will explore how the University can rebuild trust that has been strained or broken by the horrific actions beyond our campus but within the Catholic community.”

“I hope you will join our community as we pray for the victims’ healing and recovery,” McShane concluded.