Vatican responds to Pennsylvania Grand Jury abuse report

Vatican responds to Pennsylvania Grand Jury abuse report

In the most wide-ranging USA investigation into sexual abuse by priests since the scandal burst into the public eye in Boston in 2002, a two-year Pennsylvania investigation found evidence that at least 1,000 people, mostly children, had been sexually abused by some 300 clergymen during the past 70 years.

In uncharacteristically strong language for the Vatican even in matters such as the long-running abuse scandals staining the US church, spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement that victims should know "the pope is on their side".

"Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith", a papal spokesman said in a statement, released two days after the almost 900-page report was made public.

The two-year investigation estimated that the real number of victims was "in the thousands" in Pennsylvania, the most comprehensive report into abuse in the United States church that was first exposed in Boston in 2002.

The Irish Times reports that Father Patrick McCafferty urged the Pope not to come to Ireland during a sermon to his west Belfast congregation.

The report, compiled by a grand jury that met for two years, detailed more than 1,000 instances of sexual abuse committed by the priests.

In a statement, it said the Church wanted to listen to the victims to "root out this tragic horror". On Friday, an IN bishop, Kevin Rhoades, of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, said he will publicly release the names of all the priests IN his Catholic diocese who've been removed from the ministry following "credible" allegations they sexually abused children.

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This evening the Vatican said the Church "must learn hard lessons from its past", and vowed to hold abusers and enablers accountable.

The group said it would create a new way for victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy to report allegations, and for those claims to be investigated without interference by the bishops who oversee priests who are accused of sex abuse.

By church law, only the Pope can discipline or remove bishops.

Pope Francis immediately accepted his resignation and ordered him to pray as he awaits a church trial to consider further punishment. "Our structures must preclude bishops from deterring complaints against them, from hampering their investigation, or from skewing their resolution".

But his credibility on the issue has been hit by a series of missteps and victims' organisations maintain that the Church remains reluctant to hand paedophile priests over to criminal justice authorities.

Francis has compared sex abuse by priests to participating in a "Satanic Mass", but he has also been accused of being too soft on paedophiles, extending to them a general policy of mercy he is promoting in the Roman Catholic Church. "We firmly resolve, with the help of God's grace, never to repeat it".

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