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Diocese looking to restore trust in the catholic church following sex abuse scandal

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Catholics in Harrisburg looking to heal following alleged child sex abuse in the church met face-to-face with their Bishop Thursday.

Hundreds of people, including some sexual abuse survivors, filled Saint Catherine Labouré looking to Harrisburg’s Bishop Ronald Gainer for leadership following turmoil in the Catholic church.

“It was good to see the faces of our faithful and for some of the survivors to have the courage to stand up and speak about their own experiences. For me that was very, very important,” said Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Harrisburg Diocese following his first listening session.

These conversations come nearly five months after a report revealed alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church.

The report named more than 300 "predator priests" and more than 1,000 victims at dioceses throughout Pennsylvania.

Thursday was the first of nine sessions held throughout the Diocese of Harrisburg.

“It’s the beginning of a long process of restoring trust with the church. We know it’s not going to come with one single listening session. It’s not going to come with one single action,” said Mike Barley, Diocese of Harrisburg spokesman.

No cameras were allowed inside as Bishop Gainer met with parishioners to talk about issues in an open setting.

So aside from the listening sessions what else is the Diocese of Harrisburg doing to help victims and prevent abuse?

Janet McNeal has been hired as the new Youth Protection Coordinator. She brings 26 years of law enforcement experience, once serving as a State Police captain.

The church also says millions of dollars are being set aside for the new Survivor Compensation Program.

“We’re stronger with our processes and our procedures and making sure that we’re vetting everyone to prevent this type of action from occurring again,” said Barley.

The listening sessions are happening throughout January and February. The list is posted below:


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