Sexual Abuse by More Than 300 Priests in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church

Vastavam web: A new grand jury report 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.”We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands,” the grand jury report says.

“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. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.””There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale,” the grand jurors wrote in Tuesday’s report.”For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, somepace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”

“We learned of these abusers directly from their dioceses — which we hope is a sign that the church is finally changing its ways,” the grand jurors said. “And there may be more indictments in the future; investigation continues.”At a news conference announcing the report’s release, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”

Some victims were plied with alcohol and groped or molested, the report says. Others were orally, vaginally or anally raped, according to the grand jurors.
“But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”In the Greensburg diocese, a priest impregnated a 17-year-old, forged a pastor’s signature on a marriage certificate and divorced the girl months later.

According to the grand jury, the priest was allowed to stay in ministry by finding a “benevolent bishop.”Another priest in Greensburg groomed middle-school students for sex, according to the grand jury, by telling them that Mary had to “bite off the cord” and “lick” Jesus clean after the Nativity.In Harrisburg, a priest abused five sisters from the same family and collected samples of their urine, pubic hair and menstrual blood.

In Pittsburgh, church officials said that a 15-year-old boy “pursued” and “literally seduced” a priest. A church report later acknowledged that the priest had admitted to “sado-masochistic” activities with several boys.In the Allentown diocese, a priest admitted sexually molesting a boy and pleaded for help, according to documents, but was left in ministry for several more years.Also in Allentown, a priest who had abused several boys, according to the grand jury, was given a recommendation to work at Disney World.

Tuesday’s news conference began with a short video of three victims who told how they were abused and how it changed their lives.An 83-year-old man said he couldn’t show any affection to his wife and children as a result of the abuse he suffered. A woman said the abuse started when she was 18 months old. Another man said, “When you have the priest touching you every day, that’s a hard memory to have. The first erection that you have is at the hands of a priest.”

The grand jury’s searing report comes as the Catholic Church, including Pope Francis, is struggling to contain a sexual abuse scandal rapidly consuming the church on several continents.In Australia, a bishop has been found guilty of covering up sexual abuse. In Chile, the Pope was forced to recant his dismissal of an abuse scandal involving a prominent priest and bishops accused of covering up his crimes.

“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, chair of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, said in a statement.”As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.”

DiNardo and Doherty noted that the grand jury’s report spans 70 years, and many of the abuse accusations were made before 2002, when the bishops adopted new policies. The policies, known as the Dallas Charter, after the city in which they were adopted, have been revised in 2011 and 2018.The charter, the bishops said, “commits us to respond promptly and compassionately to victims, report the abuse of minors, remove offenders and take ongoing action to prevent abuse.”

For weeks, many Catholics in the United States had been warily waiting for the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report, especially as bishops in the state began publicly releasing the names of accused clergy in an apparent attempt to preempt some of the report’s findings.Court action had delayed the report’s publication. A number of individuals named in the report claimed that its findings were false or misleading, that they were denied due process of law and that its release would impair their reputations.On July 27, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the grand jury report to be released by 2 p.m. August 14 with redactions in sections where litigation was ongoing.

“A comprehensive investigation by the Office of Attorney General found widespread sexual abuse of children and a systematic coverup by leaders of the Catholic Church,” Shapiro said in his letter.Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Harrisburg Diocese also issued an apology on behalf of the religious community.
“That conduct has left a legacy of pain and sorrow that is still being felt,” he wrote. “I apologize for these actions.”

While most men on the Harrisburg list are accused of sexually abusing children, others were investigated for inappropriate behavior, such as kissing or inappropriately communicating with a minor, Gainer wrote. Others were accused of viewing or possessing child pornography.