FORT WAYNE, Indiana— An Indiana bishop who handled two cases of alleged priest sexual abuse during his previous post in Pennsylvania notified his superiors and authorities about the accusations but also warned of “scandal” if they became public.

That’s according to a Pennsylvania grand jury report released Tuesday which concluded roughly 300 Roman Catholic priests in that state molested more than 1,000 children since the 1940s.

The report mentions Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who was the bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese from 2004 to 2009 before becoming bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.

It says Rhoades notified law enforcement and his superiors about allegations against two priests and warned they could create “scandal” within the diocese.

Rhoades says in a statement he notified authorities and “followed all child protection policies and procedures.”

“The Grand Jury Report mentions two incidents during my time as Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg. In both of those situations, I followed all child protection policies and procedures, notified law enforcement, and took other action as appropriate, since each of the accused priests had already been removed from public ministry due to previous allegations,” the bishop said.

In a letter responding to the Grand Jury Report, Rhoades said the term “scandal” was taken out of context, since it was part of a file to the Vatican seeking penalties against an abusive priest.

“According to canon law, one of the key purposes of imposing ecclesiastical penalties is the ‘repair of scandal.’ In the votum [letter to the Vatican], Bishop Rhoades supported his recommendation that the most severe penalty be imposed against Presley [the accused priest] by noting that his wrongdoing would cause ‘great public scandal’ if and when it became public,” the response says.

“While this language, on its face, could be misinterpreted to indicate that Bishop Rhoades wished to protect Presley or to bury the allegations, Bishop Rhoades’ conduct proves otherwise. He notified the District Attorney of the allegations against Presley, that Presley had been suspended from ministry, and of Presley’s current whereabouts. And he stridently advocated for his removal from
the clerical state,” it continues.

In his statement to the diocese, Rhoades said, “If we are to regain the trust of our faithful and the communities we serve, we must be vigilant in our efforts to protect our youth. My commitment to this effort remains as strong today as it was during my time in Harrisburg.”

Crux staff contributed to this report.