IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters videoBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The report begins dramatically, imploring
its readers: "We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this."
Plain and simple, at least 1,000 children identified in the
investigation were raped in Catholic places of worship, in schools, and in
diocesan owned vehicles, and were "groomed" through diocesan programs and
retreats so they could be molested, wrote members of a 23-person grand jury who
heard those accounts over a period of almost two years of an investigation of
clergy sex abuse said to have taken place in six dioceses in the state of
Pennsylvania over 70 years. Their findings were unveiled Aug. 14.
In almost 1,400 pages, they describe graphic accounts of the
abuse they say happened in the Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg,
Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.
They detail accounts they heard of boys and girls whose
genitals were touched, who were raped or made to perform a variety of sex acts.
The report says one priest molested five girls in a family. In some cases the
report details, girls became pregnant after being raped. One priest was "rendered
irregular" after helping arrange an abortion for a minor he impregnated and
mentions a letter that followed from church officials that "seemed to
exclusively address the procurement of the abortion with little concern that
(the priest) had impregnated a child."
Some cases were worse than others, the report said, when
detailing a case involving a boy who was given holy water by a priest to wash
out his mouth after he had the boy perform a sex act. Most of the children were
teens and some were preteens, according to the report.
What is depicted comes from internal documents made
available by dioceses, from testimony of those who offered it, "and, on over a
dozen occasions, the priests themselves appeared before us. Most of them
admitted what they had done," the report says.
When the children or their families reported what happened,
"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," the
"The bishops weren't just aware of what was going on; they
were immersed in it. And they went to great lengths to keep it secret. The secrecy
helped spread the disease," the report said.
Most of the crimes are too old to be prosecuted, but "for
many of the victims, this report is justice," said Pennsylvania Attorney
General Josh Shapiro in an Aug. 14 news conference unveiling the report, as
some of those who had testified for the grand jury attended.
"We're going to shine a light," Shapiro added. "We can tell
our citizens what happened."
The report says that it recognizes that "much has changed
over the last 15 years."
Grand jury members said they heard reports from the six dioceses investigated,
"so that they could inform us about recent developments in their jurisdictions."
"In response, five of the bishops submitted statements to
us, and the sixth, the bishop of Erie, appeared before us in person. His
testimony impressed us as forthright and heartfelt," they wrote. "It appears
that the church is now advising law enforcement of abuse reports more promptly.
Internal review processes have been established. Victims are no longer quite so
invisible. But the full picture is not yet clear."
Even though the report is long and its details painful,
knowing what happened is "the only way to fix these problems," they write.
The report recommends that the Pennsylvania Legislature drop the
statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. They also ask for a "civil
window" law that would let older victims sue the dioceses "for the damage
inflicted on their lives when they were kids." It says better laws for "mandated
reporting of abuse" are needed and say confidentiality agreement or
non-disclosure agreements should not apply when it comes to criminal
The grand jury said it keeps in mind that there are likely
more than the more than 1,000 victims identified and likely more offending
priests it does not know about. It identified 301 priests in the report.
"What we can say, though, is that despite some institutional
reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,"
the 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. Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the
Catholic Church sex scandal."
A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but whether
there may be enough evidence or probable cause to support a criminal charge.- - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the diocesesBy WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The
following are excerpts of statements, and links to the full statements, made by
the bishops of the six Pennsylvania dioceses named in a grand jury report
released Aug. 14 that detailed a two-year investigation of seven decades of
clergy sex abuse claims. Many of the claims date back decades.
say 301 priests were linked to sex abuse claims and more than 1,000 victims
were identified by the grand jury investigation.
The bishops' statements were made
on the day the report was released.
From Bishop David A.
Zubik of Pittsburgh:
"It is difficult to stand
here before you today. Yet, I wouldn't want to be, I couldn't be, any other
place than with you at this moment. The women and men of the Grand Jury have
spoken. They have spoken for victims. To those women and men and all those they
have spoken for: We hear you. The church hears you. I hear you. ' We cannot
bury our heads in the sand. There were instances in the past, as outlined in
this report, when the church acted in ways that did not respond effectively to
"Swift and firm responses
to allegations should have started long before they did. For that I express
profound regret. At the same time, I express gratitude to survivors who have
taught us to respond with compassion to those who are wounded and with
determination to remove offenders from ministry. To apologize and express
sorrow for the past is an important step. But it is not enough. Continued
action is necessary."
Bishop Zubik's full
statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2KSdhWN. The Diocese of Pittsburgh's
response to the grand jury report is at https://bit.ly/2MjWvov and a chart on
abuse claims https://bit.ly/2Bc8tMx.
From Bishop Ronald W.
Gainer of Harrisburg:
"I read the grand jury report
on child sexual abuse with great sadness, for once again we read that innocent
children were the victims of horrific acts committed against them. I am
saddened because I know that behind every story is a child precious in God's
sight; a child who has been wounded by the sins of those who should have known
better. ' In my own name, and in the name of the diocesan Church of Harrisburg,
I express our profound sorrow and apologize to the survivors of child sex
abuse, the Catholic faithful and the general public for the abuses that took
place and for those church officials who failed to protect children.
"We will continue to make amends
for the sins of our past, and offer prayers and support to all victims of these
actions. We are committed to continuing and enhancing the positive changes
made, to ensure these types of atrocities never occur again. Since the turn of
the century, the church has instituted policies that take clear and decisive
action to prevent future abuse."
Bishop Gainer's full statement
can be found at https://bit.ly/2nANol0. He also referred to the diocese's
release Aug. 1 (and updated Aug. 6) of a list of 72 clergy, both dead and
alive, accused of abuse at https://bit.ly/2OBYiTn. The diocese has other documents on its
new Youth Protection blog, https://www.youthprotectionhbg.com.
stressed last week when we released information regarding our own internal
review of child sexual abuse in the Harrisburg Diocese," Bishop Gainer said
Aug. 14, "I acknowledge the sinfulness of those who have harmed these
survivors, as well as the action and inaction of those in church leadership who
failed to respond appropriately."
From Bishop Alfred A. Schlert of
"As your bishop, I am deeply saddened by these incidents. I
sincerely apologize for the past sins and crimes committed by some members of
the clergy. I apologize to the survivors of abuse and their loved ones. For the
times when those in the church did not live up to Christ's call to holiness,
and did not do what needed to be done, I apologize.
"I also apologize to you, the faithful of the diocese, for the
toll this issue has taken over the years: the sadness, the anger, the doubts,
and the embarrassment it may have brought you as a Catholic. I ask for your
forgiveness, and I thank you for your perseverance and for your courageous
witness to our faith. I want to assure you that as a church, we will learn from
the report of the grand jury and use it to further improve our protections for
children and young people."
full statement, issued as a letter to the people of the diocese, can be found
at https://bit.ly/2w7oHAK. A separate diocesan statement can be found at https://bit.ly/2MMBrUs.
The diocesan website, https://sp.allentowndiocese.org, also has a video message
from the bishop and a fact sheet on diocesan response to abuse claims.
From Bishop Joseph C.
Bambera of Scranton:
"Many of you are aware of the
statewide grand jury investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic
Church. The grand jury has issued its report of findings. While this is an uncomfortable
and unsettling topic, we must speak openly and frankly about it.
"First of all, none you
deserve to be confronted with the behavior described in this report. It is
unsettling, tragic and it breaks your heart. To all of you, most especially to
those of you who are victims of such heinous actions by members of the clergy,
to those of who have suffered because of misguided and inappropriate decisions
of church leaders and to those of you who make up the blessed faithful of our
church who are simply trying to live your lives as sincere and committed
servants of the Lord, I offer my deepest apologies for such behavior and the
consequences of this tragic reality in our church.
"There are simply no
words that I can offer to take away the pain this has caused. Simply put child
sexual abuse cannot be tolerated and must be eradicated from our church. Sadly,
the church has taken far too long to do that. While the investigation and the report
represent a disturbing and painful chapter in the life of our church, it is necessary
for us to address them in order for us to move ahead in a more positive way."
Bishop Bambera's message
in a video can be found in English and with Spanish subtitles can be found,
respectively, at https://bit.ly/2vIWAbu and
https://bit.ly/2Pep0T8. A diocesan statement on
the grand jury report and a list released Aug.
14 of priests, religious, lay employees and volunteers credibly accused of abuse released can be found at https://bit.ly/2KSnX7P.
From Bishop Edward C.
Malesic, Diocese of Greensburg:
"To the survivors of
sexual abuse in the church, whether it was at the hands of a priest, a teacher,
volunteer, or even a family member: I grieve for you and I grieve with you. In
the Diocese of Greensburg, we stand ready to listen to you and, if you want it,
we stand ready to help you heal as much as possible. It does not matter when it
occurred, by whom it occurred, where it occurred, or how it occurred. We want
to help. Jesus expects nothing less from us.
"Let me tell you this,
just in case you have some misgivings because of your past experience with the church:
We love you. And I ask all of the Catholic faithful to support you with the
care and concern that you deserve.
"Specifically, to those
of you who were abused by one of our priests. In the name of the entire
Catholic church, I apologize to you for those men who stole your childhood
innocence, and in some cases, robbed you of your faith. Those priests acted as
wolves among us, even if they were dressed in sheep's clothing. I am sorry for
that. In fact, honestly, I am extremely angry at them for what they did to you.
I am outraged along with everyone else. I can understand your anger with
bishops as well -- perhaps even with me. You deserved much better from us. I
promise to do my best to continue to ensure that it will never happen again.
"Let me say this as clearly
as possible. Priests who have abused our children have no place at our parish
altars wearing the vestments of our sacred mysteries. They have forfeited the
right to be called 'Father' by our people. Priests who have abused our children
have no place in ministry."
Bishop Malesic's full statement
-- in a video message and transcript -- can be found at -- https://bit.ly/2nCJHeD.
The diocese Aug. 14 also released a list of clergy with credible and substantiated allegations against them: https://bit.ly/2MHSU0e.
Other information and a special
issued of The Catholic Accent, the diocesan paper, can be found at https://bit.ly/2w60c76.
From Bishop Lawrence T. Persico,
Diocese of Erie:
"Today, I want to express
my sorrow directly to the victims of sexual abuse that occurred within the
Diocese of Erie. You have suffered in darkness for a very long time.
"As the grand jury report
demonstrates, you have experienced unimaginably cruel behavior by the very
individuals who should have had the greatest interest in protecting you. You
were betrayed by people holding themselves out as servants of God, teachers of
children or leaders in the community. ' I humbly offer my sincere apology to
each victim who has been violated by anyone affiliated with the Catholic
Church. I hope that you can accept it. I know that apologizing is only one step
in a very long and complex process of healing.
"You may be aware that we
recently unveiled new policies and implemented procedures to ensure that this
criminal behavior is stopped. We just released another update of our website
today, adding names in light of the grand jury report. This is one sign of our
commitment to transparency.
"But this is not the moment to
focus on our efforts. Today, I simply stand before you, humbled and sorrowful."
Bishop Persico's full statement
can be found at https://bit.ly/2nFt5Dm. Other Bishop Persico statements can be
found at https://bit.ly/2Mr0I9K, along with diocese's full disclosure list of
credible abuse claims and diocesan child protection protocols.- - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Tim Shaffer, ReutersBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) - A Pennsylvania
grand jury report issued Aug. 14 paints a picture of a Catholic Church in six
of the state's dioceses that for decades handled claims of sex abuse of minors
under its care by hiding the allegations and brushing aside its victims. More
than 300 priests were linked to abuse claims and over 1,000 victims were
identified, said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a news
conference following the report's release.
"The main thing was
not to help children but to avoid 'scandal,'" says a biting sentence about the
behavior of church leaders and officials in the report, detailing a months-long
investigation of clergy sex abuse claims in the dioceses of Pittsburgh,
Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Greensburg and Erie.
The report of
almost 1,400 pages covers a period of 70 years into the past, including
information from the early 2000s, a time when news of the clerical sex abuse
scandal erupted in the U.S. Before its release, some urged that the report be
read keeping in mind that a lot has changed in the church since then, and also
that not all of the report's claims are substantiated.
In the Diocese of
Pittsburgh, for example, a few priests named in the report are still working
there because diocesan officials could not substantiate claims of abuse made against
them, Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik told local reporters Aug. 10.
Post-Gazette newspaper reported that Bishop Zubik said: "There is no priest or
deacon in an assignment today against whom there was a substantiated allegation
of child sexual abuse." He said he would explain the process to parishioners
following the report's release.
But there are many
In the news
conference, Shapiro described allegations of a priest who physically molested a
group of children by telling them he was doing a "cancer check," one who he
said "impregnated" a girl, others who had boys strike a religious pose naked to
take pictures of them. Shapiro spoke of a "systematic cover-up" by church
officials who took information to the Vatican, who also did nothing to help
victims. He also spoke of priests who "weaponized faith" and had the victims go
to confession for the sins that had just been committed against them.
Some of those who
testified before the grand jury were present for the release of the report.
Reporter Brandie Kessler, of The York Daily Record, tweeted: "Victims and
family members are being led in. I'm seeing a few people starting to cry."
Some bishops from
the six dioceses named responded almost immediately after the release.
"I read the grand
jury report on child sexual abuse with great sadness, for once again we read
that innocent children were the victims of horrific acts committed against
them," said Harrisburg's Bishop Ronald. W. Gainer in a statement shortly after
the document's release. "I am saddened because I know that behind every story
is a child precious in God's sight; a child who has been wounded by the sins of
those who should have known better."
Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie appeared in a news
conference and took questions shortly after the report's release, saying he
wanted to address the victims and spoke of their "unimaginable pain" and suffering.
"You were betrayed
by people holding themselves out as servants of God," he said. "Each one of you
has your own story with pain and grief that is unique to you I don't know presume
to know ' I want to assure you that you are not responsible in any way for what
happened to you."
He said he offered "sincere
apologies" for each of victims.
"Because of the
report, the public will begin to understand your pain in a new way," he said,
pledging that the Diocese of Erie would not "shroud abusers in secrecy no matter
who they are and how long ago it took place."
Bishop Zubik said in a statement, "We are sorry, I am sorry. I
take this report to heart. It is a story of peoples' lives."
"No one who has
read it can be unaffected," he said, including many who are themselves victims
of child sexual abuse and its details would reopen wounds. But no doubt some
would feel "betrayed" by the church, too, he added.
"Today, I again
apologize to any person or family whose trust, faith and well-being has been
devastated by men who were ordained to be the image of Christ," he wrote. "Ever
since I first met victims of clergy child sexual abuse in 1988, I have seen the
immense pain that this crime causes to its victims, to their loved ones and to
the heart of Jesus. Their words break my heart. I have cried with them and for
them over the damage done to them and their families by men whose lives should
have been committed to protecting their souls from harm. I dedicate myself to
helping them and to doing everything possible to prevent such abuse from
He said the report
points out instances in the past when the church did not respond effectively to
"Swift and firm
responses to allegations should have started long before they did," he said. "For
that I express profound regret."
The grand jury said
it found in its investigation that those who claimed sexual abuse of their own
or of their children by Catholic clergy or other church workers were "brushed
aside," and officials became more concerned with protecting the abusers because
they wanted to protect the image of the church, the report says.
Some of those named in the report had their names redacted,
or blacked out, after challenging the inclusion of their identities in it
without having the legal opportunity to defend themselves. They are scheduled
to have a hearing with the court in September.
Some of the dioceses involved said they would release the
names of those facing "credible allegations" in the report when the document
was made public and some of them did so immediately.
The Diocese of Erie added five names to its list Aug. 14
and those names were not included in the grand jury report, said Bishop
Persico. Some, such as the Diocese of Harrisburg, made its list public Aug. 1,
updating it Aug. 6, adding the name of an accused priest to it after
receiving "additional information."
"We again emphasize that this is a list of accusations; we
did not make assessments of credibility or guilt in creating this list," a
statement from the diocese said.
Not all who are accused of sexual abuse or of covering it up
in the report are priests. Some on the lists released by dioceses are deacons,
some are seminarians, teachers or other church workers, and some are no longer
alive. Some are accused of being in possession of child pornography, others of
inappropriate touching, kissing, soliciting a child for sex, but most are
listed as "sexually abusing a child."
Following the sex abuse crisis in 2000, the U.S. bishops in
2002 approved procedures and protocols for addressing allegations of abuse. But Shapiro seemed to cast doubt that it was enough.
"They claimed to have changed their ways," he said.
The development comes as the Catholic Church in the United
States finds itself grappling with the late July resignation from the College
of Cardinals of a beloved and respected retired prelate, now-Archbishop
Theodore E. McCarrick, 88, of Washington, following decades-old allegations
that he sexually abused seminarians and at least two minors. He has been
removed from public ministry, as of June 20, and is awaiting a Vatican trial. - - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS/Bob RollerBy Julie AsherWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Washington Cardinal
Donald W. Wuerl said Aug. 14 that during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh
from 1988 to 2006, he "established strong policies that addressed the needs of
abuse survivors, removed priests from ministry and protected the most
vulnerable in the community."
He said he also "traveled to Rome to challenge
successfully a Vatican decision to reinstate a (Pittsburgh) priest removed from
ministry as a result of substantiated child abuse claims."
Cardinal Wuerl made the comments in
response to the Pennsylvania attorney general's release the same day of a grand
jury report on a months-long investigation of abuse claims in the Pittsburgh
Diocese and five other dioceses in the state -- Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie,
Scranton and Allentown.
The report covers a span of over 70 years
and many of the claims are decades old.
"There have been other reports about child
sex abuse within the Catholic Church," the report says. "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."
In his statement, Cardinal Wuerl said that while
he understands the report "may be critical of some of my actions, I believe the
report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and
to prevent future acts of abuse."
"I sincerely hope that a just assessment of
my actions, past and present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of
children will dispel any notions otherwise made by this report," he added.
In his statement and in an Aug. 13 letter to
priests of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl said that the part of the
report he was allowed to see before its official release had references to 32 priests in the Diocese of
Pittsburgh. His statement was accompanied by
a fact sheet about his years in Pittsburgh.
It said "the facts are" that during his
tenure as Pittsburgh's bishop, the diocese "promptly investigated" allegations
of child sexual abuse and took appropriate actions, including removal of
priests from ministry.
"The diocese required removal of a priest
from ministry in the event of an admitted or substantiated allegation of child
sexual abuse," the fact sheet said. "While allegations of abuse were being
investigated, priests were placed on administrative leave and/or sent for
professional psychological evaluation."
The grand jury report "does not distinguish
between allegations and proven facts," it said. "The report assumes that mere
allegations against a priest should have resulted in permanent removal from
ministry. This assumption is mistaken."
During his 18 years in Pittsburgh, "scientific,
psychological and medical understandings of child sexual abuse evolved significantly,
as did civil and church law," the statement said. "Still, throughout his tenure
in Pittsburgh, as well as afterwards, Cardinal Wuerl sought to implement
child-protection policies that kept pace with or were ahead of that evolution."
"As I have made clear throughout my more
than 30 years as a bishop," Cardinal Wuerl said in his remarks. "The sexual
abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church is a terrible tragedy,
and the church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the
abuse, and for the failure to respond promptly and completely."
his letter to priests of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal
Wuerl said the report "will be a reminder of grave failings that the church
must acknowledge and for which it must seek forgiveness.
will also be a reminder that there are many survivors of such abuse whom we
must continue to keep in our prayers, and whose pain we must seek to help bear
and lessen through accompaniment and care."
He said that he could not "fully express the dismay and anger I felt, when as a newly
installed bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988, I learned about the abuse some
survivors experienced in my diocese."
moved me not simply to address these acts, but to be fully engaged, to meet with
survivors and their families, and to do what I could to bring them comfort and try
to begin a process for healing," he continued. "It also urged me to develop quickly a 'zero tolerance'
policy for clergy who committed such abuse, and put in place a process to
ensure that an y allegation of abuse was addressed as fairly and forthrightly
noted that while the grand jury report references 32 Pittsburgh priests, during
the seven decades the report covers, "about 1,800 or
so diocesan priests served the people of Pittsburgh in their parishes and
In that time, he added, "more than 5,000 priests served
across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in that same time frame."
"Between 1988 and 2006, how the church -- and
society as a whole -- dealt with the scourge of child sex abuse evolved:
mandatory reporting and adjudication of such claims, for example," he added. "But
what never changed was my commitment to the survivors of the abuse and their
He said to the priests that he expected the report would be
critical "of some of my actions" in Pittsburgh, but he said he also believes "the
report also confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the
survivors and to prevent future acts of abuse."
"I sincerely hope that a just assessment of my actions, past and
present, and my continuing commitment to the protection of children will dispel
any notions otherwise made by this report," Cardinal Wuerl said.
prayers for anyone harmed by clergy, adding, "Our commitment
to addressing this scourge and supporting survivors, and encouraging survivors
to come forward for assistance and to seek justice must not waver."
"The Catholic Church can never express enough our deep sorrow
and contrition for the abuses of the past, and we are now in the midst of a new
era where our communal bonds of trust are once again being tested by the sin of
abuse," he added.
- - -
Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher- - -Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the diocesesBy WASHINGTON
(CNS) -- The U.S. bishops "are shamed by and sorry for the sins and
omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops" that have led to sexual
abuse and caused great harm to many, said an Aug. 14 statement from the
president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of its
child protection committee.
are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen,"
said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president, and Bishop
Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Indiana, chairman of the Committee for the Protection
of Children and Young People.
pledged "to maintain transparency" and provide for "the permanent removal of
offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone."Cardinal DiNardo also said he is hosting a series of meetings during the week to respond to "the broader issue of safe environments within the church," and will provide an update when the meetings are concluded.
The prelates' joint statement was issued in response to the release the same day of a grand jury
report based on a months-long investigation by the state's attorney general
into sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses -- Pittsburgh,
Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg.
report covers a span of over 70 years. Many of the claims go back decades.
report) 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,"
said Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty.
are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by
sharing their personal stories of abuse," they said. "As a body of bishops, we
are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and
added, "We are profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a
result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank."
DiNardo and Bishop Doherty said the USCCB committee headed by the Indiana bishop
and the USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection at the bishops' conference in
Washington "will continue to offer avenues to healing for those who have been
abused. We are committed to work in determined ways so that such abuse cannot happen."
2002, the bishops adopted the "Charter for the Protection of
Children and Young People," which, they said, "commits us to respond promptly and
compassionately to victims, report the abuse of minors, remove offenders and
take ongoing action to prevent abuse." The charter was revised and updated in
2011 and again in 2018.
pledge to maintain transparency and to provide for the permanent removal of
offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone," the
two prelates said. "All policies and procedures regarding training and
background check requirements are made publicly available by dioceses and
pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength in
God's loving presence as the church pledges to continue to restore trust
through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice."
note: The full statement from Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Doherty can be found
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