Vatican Corner 09-02-18

On Tuesday August 14, 2018 a shocking 1,300 page report from a Pennsylvania grand jury was released that described alleged child and young – adult sexual abuse of more than 1,000 victims by 301 Catholic priests, brothers, deacons and seminarians, over a 70 year period. The report also describes the cover up by bishops and other Church leaders that persuaded victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate. The true number of victims was said to “ probably be thousands more ” but they were not identified due to lost records and victims afraid to come forward. Six Pennsylvania dioceses were covered by the report, and it was written by 23 grand jurors over an 18 months period, and based on examining two million pages of documents with the assistance of the FBI. The report names names, it is graphic and available for all to read on the internet. This report follows two other previous reports also revealing abuse and cover – ups in the two other Pennsylvania dioceses. Most of the alleged abuses in this latest report occurred during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and are too old to be prosecuted due to the State ’ s statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, victims of child sex abuse have until they are 30 to file civil suites and until they are 50 to file criminal charges. Also two – thirds of the accused men have died. One report says nearly all the other men have been thrown out of the priesthood. One priest so far has been convicted of sexually assaulting a student in the early 1990s, and the report has led to two on – going indictments. The 301 offending men were accused of a variety of crimes, including rape, molestation, and groping. In the United States over the past several decades, the Church has implemented proactive steps intended to create a safer environment for children, including tougher screening for seminarians, training for parish workers and new misconduct policies. The report finds that there were no cases of child sexual abuse after the year 2002 showing that the proactive steps have worked. This investigation as well as the resignation last month of Cardinal McCarrick and the scandals in Australia and Chile have fueled the fear by many that there is still accountability questions in the U.S. Church that began 20 years ago after the scandal in Boston. After the release of the report Pennsylvania ’ s Catholic bishops called for prayers for victims and for the church, promising greater openness. A response statement issued by the Vatican denounced sexual abuse and called for accountability. “ The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible, ” the statement read. “ Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur. ” The statement encouraged “ continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from ha rm. ” Pope Francis then issued an impassioned lefter calling on the Church to be close to victims in solidarity, and join in acts of prayer and fasting in penance for such “ atrocities ”. Francis called on every member of the Catholic Church to pray and fast on Monday August 20, 2018 in penance for the evil of clerical sex abuse, and to be involved in needed change within the Church.