Grand jury report alleges abuses by priests, cover-ups by leaders
Grand jury report alleges abuses by priests, cover-ups by leaders
15 August, 2018, 19:06
Wuerl wrote to priests to defend himself on the eve of the scheduled August 14, 2018, release of a grand jury report investigating child sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses.
What distinguished this probe was its extraordinary scope: The grand jury scrutinized abuse allegations in six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses that, collectively, minister to more than half the state's 3.2 million Catholics.
About 1,000 child victims were identifiable from the church's records, but investigators believe the real number is much greater.
Top church officials have mostly been protected and many, including some named in the report, have been promoted, the grand jury said, concluding that "it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal".
The entire almost 900 page report can be found by visiting a page on Attorney General Josh Shapiro's website.
Tuesday's report, which said there were more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a USA government agency of child sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The panel concluded that a succession of Catholic bishops and other diocesan leaders tried to shield the church from bad publicity and financial liability by covering up abuse, failing to report accused clergy to police and discouraging victims from going to law enforcement.
Since the Boston abuse scandal first erupted in the 1990s, fresh accusations involving American clerics have sporadically surfaced, further tarnishing the church's public image.
In a statement Tuesday, the Cardinal said he "acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse".
The near-900-page report is the result of one of the largest U.S. investigations into sexual abuse in the Catholic church. For each diocese, Shapiro gave a horrific example of the abuse suffered, including a young woman in Scranton who was raped by a priest, who then offered to pay for an abortion. Many others are retired or have been dismissed from the priesthood or put on leave.
The report, released Tuesday, stated that while Dennis Dellamalva served as a priest in the Greensburg Diocese, "numerous allegations of child sexual abuse were made against him". When the abuser was finally removed from the priesthood years later, the bishop ordered the parish not to say why; "nothing else need be noted". Most of the alleged crimes have exceeded statutes of limitations to bring charges.
At least five victims said Dellamalva sexually abused them, according to the report.
"The effect, not only victimised children, it served a legal goal that church officials manipulated for their advantage", Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro told reporters.
"As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic Bishops", read the statement signed by USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Ind., committee chairman for the USCCB's Protection of Children and Young People.
"We pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength" from God, the bishops said while pledging "to continue to restore trust through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice".
The report, which was the result of a roughly two-year investigation, had remained under seal during pending court challenges from clergy. A number of individuals named in the report claimed that its findings were false or misleading, that they were denied due process of law and that its release would impair their reputations. Persico reportedly said the mishandling of the sex abuse claims made him angry and he wanted to do the right things, Shapiro said. Clergy members had until last week to seek to have their names redacted from the long-anticipated report.
"Today's order ensures that will not be the case - the redacted report on widespread sexual abuse and cover up within the Catholic Church will be released". Not only has his predecessor in the nation's capital been forced out of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Wuerl was mentioned some 200 times - some of them critically - in the grand jury report for his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.
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