Catholic Priest

Gerald J. Burns

Diocese: Diocese of Scranton

From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

On January 11, 1994, Bishop James C. Timlin received a letter from a woman who advised that her husband was sexually molested for years by Monsignor Gerald J. Burns during the time when he was an altar server at St. John’s in the 1950’s.

On January 17, 1994, Timlin spoke to Burns and he denied any wrongdoing. Timlin suggested that it would be best for him to retire. Burns agreed. Timlin accepted the resignation effective January 24, 1994.

On January 21, 1994, Timlin sent a letter to the victim and his wife apologizing for the pain and hurt that the victim had experienced.  He advised that Burns had resigned and would never be assigned to another parish again.  Timlin pledged to help both of them.

On February 15, 1994, Timlin notified the victim that the Diocese would assume responsibility for the cost for his counseling. This responsibility was to be shared with Burns.

On April 26, 1996, Timlin notified the victim that he had to bring some closure to the Diocese’s payments for his therapy.

On June 10, 1996, Timlin wrote a note wherein he indicated that he contacted the attorney who represented the victim and requested that the attorney return his call. He also noted that he had spoken with the victim and his wife, informing them that Burns had agreed to continue to pay for counseling for the victim, without any admission of guilt. An arrangement was made whereby the bills would be sent to the Chancery, who, in turn, would bill Burns.  The victim and his wife agreed to this arrangement.

In 1999, Burns passed away.  Nothing could be located in the files to indicate that any further assistance was provided to the victim after this event occurred.

Additional information regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Dioceses of Pennsylvania and the systemic cover up by senior church officials is compiled in the Pennsylvania Diocese Victim’s Report published by the Pennsylvania Attorney General following a two-year grand jury investigation.  A complete copy of the Report is available on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website.