James M. McAuliffe
Diocese: Diocese of Scranton
From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
On June 24, 2010, an advertisement was placed in a Scranton newspaper, inquiring as to whether anyone had served as an altar boy at a certain parish and was sexually abused by Father James M. McAuliffe. If so, they were asked to contact the listed telephone number. As a result of this advertisement, the Diocese placed an announcement in the bulletins that were circulated to all of the parishes to which McAuliffe had been assigned. The announcement requested victims of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to come forward. Several victims responded. Financial assistance was offered in connection with counseling for them and law enforcement was notified. These incidents of reported sexual abuse occurred between September 18, 1954 and April 3, 1963.
On August 23, 2010, one of the victim met with Bishop Joseph Bambera. He expressed concern that his report of the abuse was made in 1963 but McAuliffe continued to serve as a priest. Bambera confirmed that this incident was in fact documented in McAuliffe’s file. In March 1963, the victim had informed his father that he was sexually abused and sodomized by McAuliffe. This was reported to the Diocese and McAuliffe was removed almost immediately. He was sent to Kentucky to spend time in a rehabilitation facility. Bishop Hannon was notified by the psychiatrist in charge that McAuliffe was cured of his problems and was ready to be reassigned. Hannon refused to follow that advice, however, and noted in the file that no altar boy should ever be put in danger of being hurt again by this priest. McAuliffe went to live with his sister in Scranton.
Hannon then traveled to Rome to participate in the Second Vatican Council. He passed away during the end of the Council. Thereafter, McAuliffe managed to return to ministry. Although the Diocese is now aware that McAuliffe re-offended on other young boys, there was no information in his file until the recent reports in response to the newspaper advertisement.
On March 20, 1963, it was announced McAuliffe was assigned to St. Christopher’s effective April 5, 1963. On April 3, 1963, Hannon rescinded this assignment, stating that an unforeseen physical indisposition had intervened to prevent McAuliffe from accepting the appointment.
Monsignor Joseph A. Madden wrote in 1963 that McAuliffe was in need of some psychiatric attention. He also wrote to the parents of the victim that to report this was the best thing that could have been done for the interest of the Catholic Church; specifically, that Almighty God had seized this opportunity to make McAuliffe a better priest following his experience of being apprehended. Madden also made the following remark to the father of the victim, “after all your son was over the age of reason.”
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.