The Vatican has broken its silence over a new controversial report which detailed abuses by hundreds of Roman Catholic priests across the state of Pennsylvania.
The report alleged that more than 300 priests abused their position within the church to molest more than 1000 boys and girls. Others within the religious network with knowledge of the activities subsequently covered them up or ignored them.
Pope Francis condemned the allegations detailed in the Pennsylvania grand jury report as “criminal and morally reprehensible.”
The statute of limitations ran out on most of the priests (though some are still facing charges) so they cannot be convicted by Pennsylvania law enforcement for their actions. The Pope did not acknowledge whether the church would be penalizing the accused.
“The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the Church and in all of society,” Greg Burke, Francis’ spokesman, said as Washington Examiner reports.
“Victims should know that the Pope is on their side,” Burke added. “Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent.”
“There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow,” he also said, as Telegraph reports.
Here’s more from the Washington Examiner:
Francis’ response follows two days of silence since the release of the 1,356-page grand jury report, which covers the alleged abuse of more than 1,000 children dating back to the 1950s at the hands of 300 plus “predator” Roman Catholic priests across the state.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Tuesday the cover-up orchestrated by top Pennsylvania and Vatican church officials unearthed by the two-year grand jury investigation were “sophisticated,” per the Associated Press.
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Despite the probe prompting charges being laid against two clergymen, most perpetrators will avoid prosecution because they are no longer alive or they are protected by the statute of limitations, the AP reported.
As Washington Examiner also reports, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who spent 18 years as the bishop of Pittsburg, has no plans to resign amid the scandal.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl spent 18 years as the bishop of Pittsburgh, from 1988 to 2006, before he became archbishop of Washington. His actions are described in a 1,356-page report, which credits Wuerl with removing some priests from their parishes after they were accused of sexual abuse, but criticizes him for allowed others to return to parish work. Wuerl himself was not accused of abuse in the report.
When asked Wednesday by Fox 5 whether he would resign, Wuerl said the church response to allegations now is very different from how they were handled decades ago.