Catholic Church cov­ered up child abuse by 300 US priests: re­port

The Miracle - - National & Int -

More than 1,000 chil­dren - and pos­si­bly many more - were mo­lested by hun­dreds of Ro­man Catholic priests in six dio­ce­ses in the US state of Penn­syl­va­nia, while se­nior church of­fi­cials took steps to cover it up, ac­cord­ing to a land­mark grand jury re­port re­leased on Tues­day. The grand jury said it be­lieves the real num­ber of abused chil­dren might be in the thou­sands since some records were lost and vic­tims were afraid to come for­ward. The re­port said more than 300 clergy com­mit­ted the abuse over a pe­riod decades, begin­ning in the mid-1950s. Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro said the two-year probe found a sys­tem­atic cover-up by se­nior church of­fi­cials in Penn­syl­va­nia and at the Vat­i­can. “The cover-up was so­phis­ti­cated. And all the while, shock­ingly, church lead­er­ship kept records of the abuse and the cover-up. These doc­u­ments, from the dio­ce­ses’ own ‘Se­cret Archives,’ formed the back­bone of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said at a news con­fer­ence in the city of Har­ris­burg. The re­port faulted Car­di­nal Don­ald Wuerl, the for­mer long­time bishop of Pitts­burgh who now leads the Wash­ing­ton arch­dio­cese, for what it said was his part in the con­ceal­ment of clergy sex­ual abuse. Wuerl, one of the highest-pro­file car­di­nals in the United States, re­leased a state­ment Tues­day that said he had “acted with dili­gence, with con­cern for the vic­tims and to pre­vent fu­ture acts of abuse”. The grand jury scru­ti­nised abuse al­le­ga­tions in dio­ce­ses that min­is­ter to more than half the state’s 3.2 mil­lion Catholics. Its re­port echoed 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. Al Jazeera’s Kris­ten Saloomey, re­port­ing from Har­ris­burg, said the al­le­ga­tions made in the re­port were “re­ally shock­ing”. Most of the abuse sur­vivors were boys, but girls were abused too, the re­port said. The abuse ranged from grop­ing and mas­tur­ba­tion to anal, oral and vagi­nal rape. “Church of­fi­cials rou­tinely and pur­pose­fully de­scribed the abuse as horse­play and wrestling ... It was none of those things. It was child sex­ual abuse, in­clud­ing rape,” Shapiro said..... A cou­ple of dio­ce­ses de­cided to strip the ac­cused of their anonymity ahead of the re­port and re­leased the names of clergy mem­bers who were ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct. On Fri­day, the bishop of Pitts­burgh’s dio­cese said a few priests named in the re­port are still in min­istry be­cause the dio­cese de­ter­mined al­le­ga­tions against them were un­sub­stan­ti­ated.

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