Tuesday a grand jury from Pennsylvania released a report, via CNN detailing not only the abuse suffered by minors at the hands of “predator priests,” connected to six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, but also detailed the cover-up that according to the report spanned decades. The detailed report is 1,356 pages long and goes back to the year 1947.
The grand jury said in the report that almost every instance of abuse they found, was “too old to be prosecuted,” though CNN explains that two priests have had charges filed against them accused of abusing minors.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a press conference that this report was the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”
On Monday Pope Francis issued a lengthy letter in response to the Pennsylvania grand jury report. The full text can be found at the CNN link.
He opens with 1 Cor 12:26 — “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” he goes on to say that “no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will be sufficient.” He asks to look to the future, “no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
He says it’s with “shame and repentance,” that “we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”
He writes that, “if, in the past, the response was omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.” He says that it is solidarity that “summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially, spiritual corruption.”
He acknowledges that there have been delays in implementing zero tolerance that hold those who, “perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable,” he adds, that he is, “confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.”
He writes that it is “essential,” that the Church “be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable.”
He says that it’s time to “beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others,” he adds, “awareness of sin helps us acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”
He concludes the lengthy letter with this, “May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.”