Vatican rebukes reported sexual abuse by Pennsylvania priests

Sunday, 19 Aug, 2018

Almost 48 hours after the initial release of the report, the director of the Vatican's Press Office, Greg Burke, issued a statement, saying, "Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these terrible crimes: shame and sorrow".

In a statement issued Thursday-two days after the grand jury delivered its report-Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke described the abuses as "criminal and morally reprehensible".

In response the report, Burke said, "there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these terrible crimes: shame and sorrow".

Last month, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former Washington DC archbishop and a high-profile Catholic leader, resigned amid allegations that he sexually abused children and adults for decades.

"By finding nearly 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", Burke said.

"When you have the priest touching you every day, you know that's a hard memory to have", said a victim named Sean Dougherty.

Now there are also demands in the United States that the current Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, step down. The grand jury report said that in 1991, Wuerl reassigned an accused priest, Ernest Paone, to the Reno diocese.

Rezendes added that priests who have molested children are typically transferred to other dioceses, and it is in fact part of the overall cover-up.

"The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the Church and anyone who would hide them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability", Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro released the report Tuesday in an emotional news conference while surrounded by victims, some sharing their traumatic stories in a video.

That work detailed some of the most horrific sexual abuse allegations about Catholic priests ever seen.

The Pennsylvania scandal and the damaging allegations about McCarrick - one of the most influential Catholics in the country - have engulfed the church in scandal reminiscent of what happened in Boston with clergy sex abuse in the 2000s.

However, the Vatican's critics say it should have responded earlier and argue the Catholic Church - and Pope Francis himself - are shirking responsibility in the face of a wave of abuse scandals around the world.

And next weekend Pope Francis will be travelling to Ireland, which is also no stranger to sex abuse by priests.

"I hope what's contained in the grand jury report is going to provide an impetus for legislators to say, 'OK we do need to find justice for the victims here, '" said Pennsylvania Representative Michael Schlossberg.