According to CNN, the Vatican finally broke its silence on the Pennsylvania grand jury report on Thursday, which accuses more than 300 Catholic priests of child sexual abuse, dating all the way back to 1947.
In response to the detailed report indicating decades of abuse and cover-ups by priests and bishops in the Catholic church, the Vatican called the allegations “morally and criminally reprehensible.”
Nearly 48 hours after the initial release of the report, the director of the Vatican’s Press Office, Greg Burke, issued a statement, saying, “Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow.”
“The Holy See,” Burke continued, “treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.”
The child sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic church is not unique to the United States, however, but is rather a growing, worldwide predicament. The Pope is facing more and more pressure to address the rise of sexual abuse reports in Latin America and Australia as well, especially in recent weeks. Because of Pope Francis’ failure to address these issues among his clergy, many Catholics are growing increasingly concerned.
The Pope’s top adviser on sexual abuse, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, recently said, “The clock is ticking for all of us in Church leadership. Catholics have lost patience with us and civil society has lost confidence in us.”
The 900-page Pennsylvania grand jury report released on Tuesday is a comprehensive list of over 300 “predatory priests” and the 1,000 children, who reported being sexually abused and victimized by them. The Pennsylvania attorney general referred to the report as the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”
The report details grueling accounts of the rapes and assaults of young boys and girls by members of the Catholic clergy just in the state of Pennsylvania alone.
In light of the report, Catholic University of America professor Kurt Martens said, “There are so many things the church speaks about that are politically sensitive topics. When we do not adequately address an issue as serious as sexual abuse, it undermines the credibility of church leaders.”
In reference to the intricate cover-up of these numerous abuse reports, the grand jury report also alleges that the church had their own “playbook for concealing the truth.”
“The Church must learn hard lessons from its past,” Burke said, “and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”