Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Catholic Church hid abuse of 1,000 children in Pennsylvania

Catholic Church hid abuse of 1,000 children in Pennsylvania

A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while he was visiting her in the hospital after she'd had her tonsils removed. Another abused a seven-year-old boy whom he then forced to talk about the episode in confession.

A grand jury report released Tuesday says that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 "predator priests" have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.

The report said there are likely thousands more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward.

Bishop Solis called it "distressing" that sexual abuse has been covered up by some leaders of the church and asked for forgiveness for his "brother priests, bishops and other church ministers and for failing in our responsibility to be the true shepherds Christ called us to be".

"It makes you sick, just reading this", said the bishop, who grew up in Pittsburgh and spent much of his career there.

"Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability", the grand jury wrote in the roughly 900-page report.

"Priests were raping little boys and girls", Shapiro said.

The report echoes the findings of many earlier church investigations around the country in its description of widespread sexual abuse by clergy and church officials' concealment of it.

The report is unlikely to lead to new criminal charges or civil lawsuits under the current law because the statute of limitations has expired. More than 100 of the priests are dead.

But when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a damning 1,356-page report Tuesday, Burns said he felt ill.

Victims of sexual abuse cry as Pennsylvania attorney-general speaks in Harrisburg.

Until now, there have been just nine investigations by a prosecutor or grand jury of a Catholic diocese or archdiocese in the United States, according to the Massachusetts-based research and advocacy organization, "The reason it doesn't is because the Vatican has made a choice not to allow it". Numerous priests are dead or have left the ministry, and most claims are too old to prosecute. Some recalled being beaten by family members who did not believe their stories.

While the report names hundreds of priests, some names remain redacted due to claims that naming them violates their constitutional rights. It also is expected to spark another fight by victim advocates to win changes in state law that lawmakers have resisted.

The sexual abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church for more than 15 years, ever since explosive allegations emerged out of Boston in 2002. One bishop named in the report as vouching for an abusive priest was Cardinal Donald Wuerl, now the archbishop of Washington.

And a man who had been an altar server at Pucci's parish before he moved to Our Lady of Lourdes told the Pittsburgh diocese that Pucci had asked him to wear jockstraps or nothing under his cassocks.

The report outlined what it said was a pattern of behavior among Catholic Church officials across dioceses: use euphemisms to describe the attacks, shield the priests and, above all, avoid the police.

"One thing this is going to do is put pressure on prosecutors elsewhere to take a look at what's going on in their neck of the woods", McKiernan said.

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