U.S. priests in Pennsylvania 'abused thousands of children'

Glen Norman
August 15, 2018

The redacted grand jury report on the 70-year history of clergy sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses that was released by the state Attorney General Josh Shapiro Aug. 14 was expected, but it still proved horrifying.

'Today, Pennsylvanians can learn the extent of sexual abuse in the dioceses and for the first time we can begin to understand the systematic cover up by church leaders that followed, ' he said.

The report comes amid renewed scrutiny of child sex abuse allegations within the Catholic Church.

"The report will be a reminder of grave failings that the Church must acknowledge and for which it must seek forgiveness", he wrote.

As part of the investigation, records from the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton were analyzed.

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

"We are not the same diocese as we were 30 years ago", Zubik said in answer to a reporter.

But there are many painful claims.

'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'.

"Over 1,000 child victims were identifiable, from the church's own records". Shapiro said Bishop Donald Trautman knew about and covered up the abuse. Wuerl released a statement denying being involved in any cover-up and insisting he "acted with diligence.to prevent future acts of abuse". W. Gainer in a statement shortly after the document's release.

What he saw was a bishop who earnestly wanted to confront the problem but also believed in the faulty science of his time. But he added that it "doesn't take away the pain". I hope that you can accept it. The victim screamed and Ginder then entered the room and offered to drive the victim home. "As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops", it says. "It is a story of peoples' lives". He sent a letter to Washington priests defending his efforts on behalf of victims and claiming a "zero tolerance policy" for clergy abuse, the Associated Press reported.

Others questioned their faith or expressed fear about who can be trusted in church settings. "It was child sexual abuse, including rape". Their words break my heart. "They targeted me because I was fatherless". He wrote, 'This is a very hard time in your life and I realize how upset you are.

Shapiro vowed to go to court to get the redactions in the report removed. In Chile, authorities this week carried out a series of raids at Catholic church offices, looking for evidence they said the Chilean church had not produced.

The report is now the subject of a legal battle over the redactions of names of those involved in the abuse, or covering it up afterwards. They are scheduled to have a hearing with the court in September.

The Philadelphia archdiocese and the Johnstown-Altoona diocese were not included in the investigation because they have been the subject of three previous scathing grand jury investigations. Some, such as the Diocese of Harrisburg, made its list public August 1, updating it August 6, adding the name of an accused priest to it after receiving "additional information". As a high-ranking official said about one suspect priest: "At this point we are at impasse - allegations and no admission".

"To make it easier to target their victims, the priests gave their favored boys gifts - gold crosses to wear as necklaces". Some on the lists released by dioceses are deacons, some are seminarians, teachers or other church workers, and some are no longer alive. Meanwhile, bishops in Boston and Nebraska are investigating possible cases of sexual abuse in Catholic seminaries.

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. But Shapiro seemed to cast doubt that it was enough.

Last month, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former Washington DC archbishop and a high-profile Catholic leader, resigned amid allegations that he sexually abused children and adults for decades. Wuerl has always been known for his advocacy of a strong stance against clergy sex abuse, starting with his removal of Fr. Anthony Cipolla from ministry in 1988.

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