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Three accused priests had ties to area Catholic churches

By Laura Hayes


Posted 8/8/18

The Diocese of Harrisburg identified 71 clergy members and seminarians within the diocese who have been accused of sexually abusing a child since the 1940s. 

Of the accused, three served at …

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Three accused priests had ties to area Catholic churches


The Diocese of Harrisburg identified 71 clergy members and seminarians within the diocese who have been accused of sexually abusing a child since the 1940s. 

Of the accused, three served at churches in Middletown and Steelton.

During a press conference Aug. 1, Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg Ronald W. Gainer said he wished to emphasize that the list was a list of accusations, not an assessment of credibility or guilt.

“I want to take this opportunity to express my sadness that youth, under the church’s supervision, were abused. Many of those victimized as children continue as survivors to suffer from the harm they experienced,” Gainer said.

The list of accused clergy and seminarians released by the diocese included the individual’s name, a description of the allegation, whether the person is alive and if they were affiliated with the Harrisburg diocese or another diocese.

The list is divided into whether the individual was accused while they were alive, dead or serving in another diocese, and is further divided by types of allegations such as indecent behavior (such as sexual abuse), inappropriate behavior, inappropriate communications and child pornography.

Father Salvatore Zangari, who is deceased, served as assistant at Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Middletown for three months in 1951 before leaving to become a chaplain in the U.S. Army. According to his obituary, he was ordained in 1944 and served during the Korean War.

There are reportedly multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children against Zangari.

One of the accused, Father Thomas Ronald Haney, served at St. Ann and St. James parishes in Steelton.

Haney, who died in 2006, was also the editor of the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Witness. Haney was ordained in 1958 and apparently was in Steelton in the 1960s.

According to the diocese, when he was alive, Haney was accused of inappropriately touching and making comments towards a child, and following his death, he was accused of sexually abusing a child.

Father William Haviland, who died in 2017, was ordained in 1962. According to his obituary, he was the pastor at St. Peter Church in Steelton and administrator of Saint John the Evangelist Church, Enhaut in the 1960s or 1970s. Haviland is accused of sexually abusing a child.

Gainer apologized to the survivors, members of the Catholic church and the public for the abuses and “for those church officials who failed to protect children.”

According to a letter preceding the list of accused, when Gainer became bishop in 2014, he asked staff to create a list of people alleged to have sexually abused children, and in 2016, diocese staff was prepared to release its list when the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General asked the diocese to “stand down” pending its own grand jury investigation.

The list includes 37 people who were diocese priests, three who were diocese deacons, six who were seminarians, nine who were clergy of other dioceses and 16 who were from religious communities.

In a press release, Joe Grace, spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, said this month that the office planned to publish an “honest and comprehensive” account of sexual abuse by more than 300 Pennsylvania priests.

“It is long past due for the Diocese of Harrisburg to make public the names of predator priests within the Catholic Church,” Grace said. “Their proclamations [on Aug. 1] only come after intense public pressure and in the face of the imminent release of the grand jury report exposing decades of child abuse and cover up.”

The investigation, Gainer said during the press conference, made the diocese look at its past and present, including whether names of individuals accused should remain on buildings, rooms or halls throughout the dioceses. Their names will be removed from “any place of honor throughout the dioceses,” he said.

Gainer added that it was clear that church leadership “did not in every case take adequate measures while handling matters related to offending clerics.”

The names of all bishops since 1947 will also be removed from the buildings, facilities and rooms within the diocese.

When asked whether this would affect Seven Sorrows or Prince of Peace, the diocese’s Director of Communications Joseph Aponick said that they have asked parishes to send the diocese information. He anticipated having it within the next seven to 10 days.

“This decision may prove to be controversial, but as a bishop, I strongly believe that leaders of the diocese must hold themselves to a higher standard and must yield honorary symbols in the interest of healing,” Gainer said.

He said the diocese has issued a new set of guidelines and measures to address child sexual abuse, including immediately turning any received complaint to law enforcement; screening employees and volunteers with background certification; teaching children how to stay safe; require clergy, employees and volunteers to complete a state-approved training on how to recognize and report abuse; and provide identification badges for individuals who have completed training and background certification.

For more information regarding the diocese’s efforts to address child sexual abuse, visit https://www.youthprotectionhbg.com. To report abuse, call the toll-free Pennsylvania Child Abuse Hotline at 800-932-0313 or the diocese’s toll-free hotline at 800-626-1608.