An Iowa priest believed that Bishops who covered the sexual abuses of Pennsylvania clergy must resigned and live in penance.
The Rev. P.J. McManus entered the Roman Catholic priesthood in 2001.
Four months later, a Boston Globe investigation revealed widespread child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and an orchestrated cover-up by church leaders in the Archdiocese of Boston.
The accusations stretched back decades and the victims number in the thousands.
Furthermore, more revelations followed in cities across the United States and in Europe. Between 2003 and 2009, 17 dioceses nationwide paid out $1.3 billion in settlements to more than 1,800 victims. Some dioceses were driven into bankruptcy, including the Diocese of Davenport.
“Every day of my professional life I have lived with the specter of pedophilia and the abuse of power within the church,” McManus, of Des Moines, said in an interview.
Then came the latest child sexual abuse and cover-up scandal, which rocked dioceses across Pennsylvania last month when an 884-page Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed more than 1,000 child sexual abuse victims by more than 300 priests in six of the eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, the claims were dated back as many as 70 years.
McManus found himself at the grocery store the morning after the Pennsylvania report became public.
“At first it wasn’t conscious, but when I got there, I realized it was intentional,” McManus said in a passionate sermon to his flock at Christ the King Catholic Church on Southwest Ninth Street in Des Moines last month.
“It’s hard enough for (priests) because — surprise! — this gig ain’t easy,” he said. “Celibacy is hard by itself. Most of us struggle every day. But to have the bodies of those entrusted in our care and most precious to us and to our God violated by the ones who care for them … it’s just wrong.”
McManus spoke out against the Catholic Church hierarchy from the pulpit.
“I’m angry and I’m hurt,” McManus said in August. “I am speaking about it publicly because you need to hear someone, even some minor, know-nothing priest with very little authority, say, ‘It’s wrong!’”
He added, “The bishops were wrong. Every one of them embroiled in this cover-up needs to resign and be sent to a monastery to live on bread and water in penance for the rest of their lives.”