Diocese of Scranton – The Geographic Solution to Abuse

Some have referred to it as “pass the trash”.  Some have referred to it more diplomatically as the “geographic solution”.  No matter what you call it, the practice is the same.  When a cleric abuses a child, the cleric is simply relocated away from the problem to another location.  In some cases the cleric is relocated to a neighboring parish and in some cases the cleric re-appears far away in another state or country.

Recent information emerging from the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania highlights the immense geographic barriers utilized by the Church worldwide to obscure abuse and allow offending clerics continued access to children.  On multiple occasions, these clerics have not only been allowed to return to ministry in their new locations but have risen up through the hierarchy to prominent positions in spite of their offenses against children.  Reports indicated that Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity was removed from the Diocese of Scranton for abusing children before being sent to residential treatment in Canada then resurfacing in Paraguay as the Vicar General of the Ciudad del Este diocese.

Father Joseph Ferrario was a Scranton priest who also left Pennsylvania to later become incardinated into the Diocese of Honolulu where he rose to become Bishop while denying the mounting allegations of abuse against him for decades.  He has since been subject to numerous lawsuits by at least 6 survivors of his abuse.

It seems unfathomable to consider how these individuals reached high ranking positions after leaving the Diocese of Scranton.  However, a pattern of relocating problem priests without disclosing their dangerous propensities smacks of a public safety nightmare.  Bishop Accountability lists at least 4 other sexually offending clerics from Scranton that have scattered to other jurisdictions including Florida; Texas; Paraguay; and Missouri.

Advocates for the safety of children have called for transparency and disclosure from the Diocese of Scranton.  A candid disclosure should include an explanation of what appears to be a pattern of conduct seeking a geographic solution to the problem and clergy sexual abuse