Update August 17, 2018
The Vatican released a statement in response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report on August 16, 2018. The statement reads:
Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow.
The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.
The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. 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.
Most of the discussion in the report concerns abuses before the early 2000s. By finding almost no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury’s conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse.
The Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm. The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements.
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. Victims should know that the Pope is on their side.
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 were more than 300 predator priests who abused more than 1,000 children in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania from the 1940s through the early 2000s.
That’s the shocking finding from a grand jury that reported the “real number” of abused children might never be known since some secret church records were lost, and victims were afraid to come forward.
“We are sick over all the crimes that will go unpunished and uncompensated,” the grand jury said.
The investigation involved clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.