“State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Tuesday
that more than 1,000 child victims were identified in the report, but
the grand jury believes there are more.The investigation is the most comprehensive yet on Catholic Church
sex abuse in the United States.
The 18-month probe, led by state
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, on six of the state’s eight dioceses –
Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg – and
follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups
in two other dioceses.
Shapiro said that the report details a “systematic coverup by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican.”
The nearly 1,400-page report’s introduction makes clear that few criminal cases may result from the massive investigation. “As a consequence of the coverup, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted,” it reads.
“We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal
diocesan documents. They contained credible allegations against over
three hundred predator priests.
Over one thousand child victims were
identifiable, from the church’s own records. We believe that the real
number – of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to
come forward – is in the thousands.”
Some details and names that might reveal the clergy listed have been
redacted from the report. Legal challenges by clergy delayed the
report’s release, after some said it is a violation of their
constitutional rights. Shapiro said they will work to remove every
The report has helped renew a crisis many in the church thought and
hoped had ended nearly 20 years ago after the scandal erupted in Boston.
But recent abuse-related scandals, from Chile to Australia, have
reopened wounding questions about accountability and whether church
officials are still covering up crimes at the highest levels.
The new wave of allegations has called Pope Francis’s handling of
abuse into question as many Catholics look to him to help the church
regain its credibility. The pope’s track record has been mixed,
something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings
and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse
The Pennsylvania grand jury report follows the resignation last month
of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a towering figure in the U.S. church.
The former archbishop of Washington, D.C., was accused of sexually
abusing minors and adults for decades. Both have further polarized the
church on homosexuality, celibacy and whether laypeople should have more
power. It has also triggered debate about whether statutes of
limitations should be expanded.
“We’re dealing with a long-term struggle not only about the meaning
of justice, but about the meaning of memory,” said Jason Berry, a
reporter and author who has covered the sexual abuse crisis for decades.
“And how honest church has been about this crisis. Most bishops,
besides apologies, have not been on the cutting edge of change.”
“Canon law is not equipped for this kind of thing. It’s an enormous
criminal sexual underground. It’s been surfacing like jagged parts of an
iceberg for 30 years,” Berry said.
“Accountability from inside the church is not happening,” said Anne
Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, which that
tracks sexual abuse cases. “But secular society is beginning to affect
the most change.” (!!)
Todd Frey, 50, who says he was abused when he was 13 by a priest in
Lancaster County, spoke to the grand jury. He said he told church and
law enforcement officials over the years, but nothing was done. The
report will be his first opportunity to see if the priest is accused of
abusing others, and who in the church knew. “
Also… “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were
responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For
decades,” the grand jury wrote in its report…
In Erie, a 7-year-old boy was sexually abused by a
priest who then told him he should go to confession and confess his
“sins” to that same priest.
Another boy was
repeatedly raped from ages 13 to 15 by a priest who bore down so hard on
the boy’s back that it caused severe spine injuries. He became addicted
to painkillers and later died of an overdose.
victim in Pittsburgh was forced to pose naked as Christ on the cross
while priests photographed him with a Polaroid camera. Priests gave the
boy and others gold cross necklaces to mark them as being “groomed” for
Further…“For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops,
cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this
report, have been promoted. Until that changes, we think it is too
early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal…”
1,356 page report: “We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this. We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere…” http://media-downloads.pacourts.us/InterimRedactedReportandResponses.pdf?cb=22148