Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Church report: 1,000 child victims in Pennsylvania

Church report: 1,000 child victims in Pennsylvania

It identified 301 clergymen and 1,000 victims but added that the "real number" of abused children might be "in the thousands" as records had been lost and some victims were too afraid to come forward.

"Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible not only did nothing: They hid it all", the report states.

The jury looked into the claims in eight dioceses in Pennsylvania, covering more than half of the state's 3.2 million Catholics: Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg.

A priest with North Jersey ties was among 300 from six Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania who sexually abused more than 1,000 children, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday. He became addicted to painkillers and later died of an overdose.

One incident involved a young boy posing naked as Jesus while priests took pornographic pictures of the young victim. Shapiro said Bishop Donald Trautman knew about and covered up the abuse.

In addition, the grand jury asked for improvement to the law for mandated reporting of abuse and law that prohibits confidentiality agreements from applying to criminal investigations. "It was child sexual abuse, including rape", he said.

Shapiro said at a news conference that he was bound by the state's statutes of limitation. He also spoke of priests who "weaponized faith" and had the victims go to Confession for the sins that had just been committed against them.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report details the latest in a decades-long series of claims of abuse and protection leveled against the church across the nation and around the world. Second, other state officials might launch their own all-encompassing investigations into clergy sexual abuse.

"As a outcome of the coverup, nearly every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted".

Wuerl said he expects the grand jury's findings from the 70 years it explored will be "profoundly disturbing". First, it will encourage other states to look at their statutes of limitation.

But Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled that the public had a right to see it, though it allowed the identities of priests and others who objected to the findings to remain sealed, pending a September hearing on the case.

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Its findings echoed many earlier church investigations around the country, describing widespread sexual abuse and church officials' concealment of it. US bishops have acknowledged that more than 17,000 people nationwide have reported being molested by priests and others in the church.

Wuerl is already dealing with allegations that a predecessor, disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, allegedly sexually abused boys and adult seminarians.

The Vatican press office declined on Tuesday to comment.

The report faulted Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former longtime bishop of Pittsburgh who now leads the Washington archdiocese, for what it said was his part in the concealment of clergy sexual abuse.

Shapiro's most scathing criticisms were aimed at church leadership that fostered what the report calls a "circle of secrecy".

"As a result of today's painful revelations about the Cardinal's failures to protect children while serving as Bishop of Harrisburg, it is no longer the plan of the Archdiocese to name the proposed new Catholic school in Baltimore after Cardinal Keeler", Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. The grand jury depicts his actions as a mix of well-intentioned and obfuscatory, at times stopping abusive priests from continuing in their ministries in the diocese and at other times guiding them back into parishes.

"While I expect that this report will be critical of some of my actions, I believe the report also confirms that I acted with diligence", Wuerl wrote.

Priests in every church in the Erie Catholic Diocese this past weekend read a letter about the grand jury report from Bishop Lawrence Persico.

It is the largest examination of Catholic Church abuse in American History.

Bishop Burns also noted that since 2008 more than 125,000 people in the Diocese of Dallas have taken safe environment training, but he also said the report is further proof more must be done to deal with the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Persico received a rare commendation in the grand jury report for being the only bishop to testify in person about processes in place to prevent and respond to child sex abuse.

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