Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Priests Accused Of Abusing Thousands Of Children In Pennsylvania

Priests Accused Of Abusing Thousands Of Children In Pennsylvania

A bombshell report by a grand jury in Pennsylvania has extensively detailed for the first time how 300 priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children and how church leaders, some of whom are still alive, covered it up.

The "real number" of abused children and abusive priests might be higher since some secret church records were lost and some victims never came forward, the grand jury said.

Yet the grand jury's work might not result in justice for Catholics who say they were molested as children.

But the Pennsylaniva report comes on the heels of an investigation released last month by two law firms detailing 58 men of the cloth in Hawaii who were recently accused of abuse, which was alleged to have happened decades ago.

Because the priests had largely escaped public accountability and in some cases were promoted, the report said: "Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic church sex scandal".

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

"There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church".

When the report was released Tuesday, it became clear that numerous petitioners are priests accused of sexual misconduct. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. We know some of you have heard some of it before.

"The pattern was abuse, deny and cover up", Shapiro said.

It continued: "The investigation was unable to uncover the identities and experiences of these additional victims".

As recently as last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of prominent Vatican official Cardinal Theodore McCarrick amid claims of sexual abuse nearly 40 years ago.

The introduction of the report provides several examples of how the dioceses investigated ignored allegations or even praised priests accused of sexual abuse.

While cases of suspected abuse since 2002 have been handled according to the USCCB's "Essential Norms", the Cipolla case served as an important template in the 1990's, making it easier for other bishops to remove priests accused of abuse from active ministry.

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And in the United States, a prominent archbishop was removed from the powerful College of Cardinals following reports that he had molested a teenage altar boy and several others while he was rising through the church's ranks. The redactions hide the identities of clergy members who have said they are wrongfully accused in the report and have filed legal challenges.

"We are now in the midst of a new era where our communal bonds of trust are once again being tested by the sin of abuse". He said any accusers, under Pennsylvania law, have until they turn 30 to file a civil suit.

Dozens of pages in the report were blacked out from public view as a ferocious legal battle over its full release remains unresolved.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the investigation is ongoing.

The attorney general said the report exposes a "systematic cover-up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and the Vatican".

Some current and former clergy named in the report went to court to prevent its release, arguing it violated their constitutional rights to reputation and due process of law.

But prior to that, when the youngest victim of the family told her parents in 1992, a police search of the priest's home found panties, plastic containers of pubic hairs, vials of urine, and sexually suggestive photographs of young girls.

"Church officials routinely and purposefully described the abuse as horseplay and wrestling and inappropriate conduct".

"We are focused on re-establishing trust among all those who rely on the Catholic Church for help, for spiritual guidance, and for strength", Schlert wrote, asking those in his diocese to "join me as we pray for victims and survivors of these reprehensible acts".

Gainer also announced sweeping changes to confidentiality policies and stripped from any place of honor in the diocese the names of bishops and others associated with the abuses. He could not confirm that no abuse was happening in the church today, however. While Dorsey was not found to be in possession of child pornography, he mentioned in his online communications that he wanted to go to Mexico to "rent" boys, according to authorities.

"Swift and firm responses to allegations should have started long before they did", he said.

In this June 30, 2015, file photo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, speaks while outlining the schedule for Pope Francis' September 2015 visit to Washington, during a news conference at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.

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