Reaction to priest sex abuse report in Pennsylvania: 'I have lost faith'

15 August, 2018, 23:59 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • More than 300 Pennsylvania priests committed sexual abuse over decades

The grand jury's report recommends reforming the state's criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sexual abuse, explaining: "Almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted".

Another boy was made to pose naked as if being crucified and then was photographed by a group of priests who Shapiro said produced and shared child pornography on church grounds.

Mr Shapiro called on Church bishops in Pennsylvania to accept the recommendations.

"As a effect of the cover-up, nearly every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted", the report said.

Pennsylvania is believed to have conducted more investigations of institutional child sex abuse than any other state. American abuse survivors have pushed for years for the government to undertake a nationwide inquiry similar to that in Australia, where a royal commission spent four years examining the sexual abuse of children by a variety of religious and civic institutions, including the Catholic church.

Bishop David Zubik, who leads the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, responded to the shocking report Tuesday and said a cover-up wasn't going on.

The Pennsylvania grand jury met for two years and heard testimony from victims and the bishop of Erie.

"If this doesnt start a serious debate on the elimination of the statute of limitation, theres something seriously wrong with my fellow Pennsylvanians", said Shaun Dougherty, 48, who testified before the Altoona-Johnstown grand jury about being abused by a priest for three years starting at age 10.

Most victims were boys but some girls were also abused, the grand jury said.

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Peter Isely, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual abuse, said groups have always been pressing the United States government for a national investigation of child sex abuse, especially in the Catholic Church. "They were ridiculed", he said.

The letter is to be read at every Mass in the diocese this weekend.

Worldwide, national law enforcement agencies are targeting abuse within the church.

"We are focused on re-establishing trust among all those who rely on the Catholic Church for help, for spiritual guidance, and for strength", Schlert wrote, asking those in his diocese to "join me as we pray for victims and survivors of these reprehensible acts". Transparency, accountability, credibility and responsibility are all needed now more than ever. "Prayers aren't bringing us justice".

The timing of the grand jury's report could not be more grimly appropriate given the massive scandal surrounding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, who resigned from the College of Cardinals last month in the face of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and male adults.

The civil statute of limitations in Pennsylvania now gives child sex abuse victims 12 years to sue after they turn 18. Victims in their 30s and older get only two years to sue.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Rezendes said that he wasn't surprised by the bombshell sexual abuse scandal around the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

Rozzi previously has sponsored legislation in the past that sought to eliminate the statute of limitations, seeing it pass in the state House but struggle in the state Senate.

The report, released after a two-year investigation, said there are likely additional victims. "We need to put our foot down on the gas here and hold these bishops accountable".

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