In Catholic sex abuse report, dozens of pages shielded from public


The investigation, the broadest inquiry into church sex abuse in United States history, identified 1 000 children who were victims, but reported that there probably are thousands more.

The long-anticipated grand jury report on Catholic clergy sex abuse was released Tuesday, yet much still remains hidden.

The grand jury heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed more than a half-million pages of internal diocesan documents, including reports by bishops to Vatican officials disclosing the details of abusive priests that they had not made public or reported to law enforcement.

Victims of clergy sexual abuse, or their family members react as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

He said he imposed a "zero tolerance" policy for clergy who committed abuse and a process to address allegations.

In an odd choice of words, Zubik said Wuerl has been and continues to be "passionate about child sexual abuse".

He is named in the report for allegedly not doing enough to protect children during his time in Pittsburgh - but he denied this in a statement, saying he "acted with diligence, with concern for the survivors and to prevent future acts of violence".

Separately on Tuesday, the Chilean government asked the Vatican for documents related to sex abuse accusations against clergy in Chile, as local prosecutors raided another office of the Roman Catholic Church in Santiago.

The grand jury report does include numerous examples of Wuerl refusing to return priests to parishes after they were accused of sexual abuse.

One of the alleged cover-ups involved former Pittsburgh priest Rev. Ernest Paone, "a priest who was caught molesting young boys and using guns with even younger children".

The dioceses included in the Pennsylvania report, initiated in 2016 under then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane, are Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie and Greensburg. Beginning in 1988, Wuerl enacted policies such as mandatory reporting to civil authorities, that would later become part of the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children, adopted by the US bishops in 2002.

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Its findings echoed many earlier church investigations around the country, describing widespread sexual abuse and church officials' concealment of it. USA bishops have acknowledged that more than 17,000 people nationwide have reported being molested by priests and others in the church.

Few criminal cases will likely result from the investigation under current law because of the statutes of limitation.

Wuerl wrote to priests late Monday, defending himself ahead of the release of a roughly 900-page report that victim advocates call the largest and most exhaustive such review by any US state. Many bishops, including future-Cardinal, the late Anthony Bevilaqua, were accused of continuing priests they knew to be risky to children in active ministry.

As I have made clear throughout my more than 30 years as a bishop, the sexual abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church is a bad tragedy, and the Church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuse, and for the failure to respond promptly and completely.

The report comes at a time of fresh scandal at the highest levels of the U.S. Catholic Church.

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.

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court had agreed to consider claims from priests that the report is inaccurate and releasing it with identifying information would violate their constitutional rights and set oral arguments for the issue in September, according to Shapiro.

A grand jury in Pennsylvania alleges widespread sexual abuse by hundreds of priests statewide, and an effort to hide the crimes. But victims in their 30s and older fall under a different law; they only get two years. The report emerged from one of the nation's most exhaustive investigations of clergy sexual abuse.

The diocese already released a list of names of clergy and laypersons who were credibly accused of actions that, in the diocese's judgment, disqualify them from working with children.

He says the report will be critical of some of his actions as Pittsburgh's bishop.