Professor Protests Scranton Bishop Over Abuse Scandal

by David Nussman  •  •  September 27, 2018   

Psychology professor Barry Kuhle gives silent protest to Bp. Joseph Bambera

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SCRANTON, Pa. ( - A psychology professor protested a Pennsylvania bishop over the sex abuse scandal and is calling for his resignation.

The University of Scranton — a Catholic university run by the Jesuits — inaugurated its next president on Sept. 21. Scranton's Bp. Joseph Bambera gave a brief speech during the ceremony.

But when Bp. Bambera took the podium, psychology professor Barry Kuhle stood up and turned his back to the bishop. He remained standing during the bishop's speech in silent protest.

Kuhle was raised Jewish in Long Island, New York, and his sister, Wendy, was sexually assaulted by a temple leader in her pre-teens. She committed suicide in 2007. The day of the inauguration where Kuhle protested would have been her 42nd birthday.

The psychology professor said he was outraged by the allegations of sex abuse cover-ups found in the Pennsylvania grand jury report. Published last month, the bombshell report contained allegations of sex abuse against some 300 Catholic clergy and religious across six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses. The remaining two, the Altoona-Johnstown diocese and the Philadelphia archdiocese, were previously subject to similar investigations.

Kuhle told local news his children are in CCD, and he called for Bp. Bambera's resignation:

There's no decision to be made. You dial 911, and he didn't do that. I have two children in CCD now. How can I trust he's going to do the right thing in the future when he didn't do the right thing then? He needs to do the right thing today. He needs to resign.

The professor described the thoughts that went through his head during his silent protest: "I mean, I've never done anything like that, so the flood of thoughts through my head about my kids, Wendy, the grand jury report and all its horrific detail."

I mean, I've never done anything like that, so the flood of thoughts through my head about my kids, Wendy, the grand jury report and all its horrific detail.

In response to Kuhle, the diocese of Scranton said in a statement:

There is no basis to support the call for Bishop Bambera's resignation. The facts don't support it. He was referenced only tangentially in the grand jury report for cases ultimately decided by his predecessor, Bishop Timlin. During his time as diocesan vicar for clergy, Bishop Bambera fought repeatedly to protect children and punish abusive priests. Since he became Bishop in 2010, the Diocese has notified civil authorities of all accusations of abuse, has immediately and permanently removed from ministry all credibly accused priests and has fully informed the public of all such removals. And his recent decision to ban Bishop Timlin from representing the Diocese of Scranton was one of the first in the country by a sitting bishop. At a time when we need to stand for positive change, Bishop Bambera refuses to turn his back on the faithful of the Diocese.

Church Militant searched the grand jury report for Bp. Bambera's name. The search yielded 11 results, but nowhere does the bishop appear to be implicated for cover-up of abuse. In one instance, the report notes, "During the course of the investigation, Bishop Bambera of Scranton disclosed the names of all accused priests within his diocese to local law enforcement."

Kuhle is a blogger with Psychology Today. According to the University of Scranton's website, "His research focuses on the evolved psychological mechanisms that underlie sex differences in humor production, mate preferences, and romantic jealousy."

The person who was being inaugurated as the new president of the University of Scranton is Jesuit priest Fr. Scott Pilarz.

This is Fr. Pilarz's second stint as the University of Scranton's president. He served in the position 2004–2011, then left Scranton to be president of Marquette University in Wisconsin, and then Georgetown Preparatory School in Washington, D.C.


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