Pittsburgh Catholic diocese disputes grand jury claim
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is disputing a state grand jury’s claim that Catholic Charities Fund money was used to cover parochial school bills for the children of a clergy sex abuse victim.
An alleged victim of former priest William Yockey received payments totaling nearly $55,000 that went toward his children’s Catholic school educations from 2012 to 2017. A grand jury report released in August detailing decades of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses said the money came from various diocesan funds, including a “Catholic Charities Fund.”
The Tribune-Review cited the payments in a Dec. 17 article about a lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of Yockey’s that accuses the diocese of covering up Yockey’s sexual abuse while he served at St. Bernadette Church in Monroeville in the 1980s.
Three days later, diocesan spokeswoman Ann Rogers said that “no money to assist victims of child sexual abuse by clergy came from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which is incorporated separately from the diocese.”
Instead, the money came from the “Bishop’s Charities Account,” she said.
Rogers described that account as a “discretionary fund that the bishop may use for any cause he chooses.”
Referring to the family that received funding for Catholic school bills, Rogers said the children were already eligible for the funding “regardless of their personal history.”
“However, recognizing that one parent had suffered harm from a priest and nevertheless had chosen to raise his own children in the faith, the diocese offered to cover the remaining balance of the tuition,” Rogers said.
Joe Grace, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, said the office stands by the grand jury report.
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh was given the opportunity to review and respond to the entire grand jury report. It did, and that response is appended to the report. The conduct of the Diocese and Father Yockey was documented in the diocese’s own secret archives,” Grace said in an email.
The diocese’s formal response to the grand jury report, issued 10 days after the report’s release, did not dispute the origin of tuition funding for the family of Yockey’s victim.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.