Over 300 priests sexually abused at least 1000 victims in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania grand jury reports: Child abuse by over 300 priests of at least 1,000 victims was systematically covered up by bishops and other leaders of the Catholic Church in 6 of 8 dioceses across the state.

The report also said there are probably thousands more unidentified victims.

a playbook for abuse coverup

The FBI reviewed the evidence from the grand jury and concluded the Church had followed a “playbook” to sidestep their responsibility. Churches talked about putting priests “on sick leave” rather than telling parishioners the truth about allegations of sexual misconduct. If it became known that a priest was a “problem,” they were to transfer him to another parish where nobody knew he was a child molester. This happened frequently. There were lists of places where priests were transferred.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, an initiator in the investigation, said, “They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.”

The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops called it a “moral catastrophe.”

an excerpt from the grand jury report

We know that child abuse in the church has not yet disappeared, because we are charging two priests, in two different dioceses, with crimes that fall within the statute of limitations. One of these priests ejaculated in the mouth of a seven -year -old. 6 The other assaulted two different boys, on a monthly basis, for a period of years that ended only in 2010. And we know there might be many additional recent victims, who have not yet developed the resources to come forward either to police or to the church. As we have learned from the experiences of the victims who we saw, it takes time.

The full report is very readable, very graphic and very important. Geek out on the first page of the report here.

The Catholic Church has been working toward improving transparency in sexual abuse cases, yet there are ongoing issues, two of which are mentioned in the grand jury report. Is it time to consider why this happens in the Church rather than what to do after it has already occurred? Is it time to take a look at celibacy? Let’s debate it here.

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