Pennsylvania report lists more than 300 'predator' priests

Hundreds of priests are alleged to have abused ore than 1,000 children

It also accuses church leaders of taking steps to cover up the abuse.

The report is thought to be the most comprehensive to date into abuse in the United States church, but while prosecutors have filed charges against two priests, the vast majority of crimes happened too long ago to prosecute under current laws.

More than 1000 children were sexually abused by hundreds of paedophile priests in Pennsylvania for decades, according to a report released today by Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

"From 1982 to 1983 - - at the time the Diocese received complaints of sexual abuse by Dellamalva - - he was given a leave of absence and sent to the Spencer Abbey treatment center in MA", according to the report.

A number of priests cited in the report were found by church and civil authorities in possession of child pornography as well. Every redaction tells an incomplete story of abuse that deserves to be told.

In advance of the report's release, conservative groups suggested the report would blacken the reputation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who served as the Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006.

Wuerl, one of the highest-profile cardinals in the United States, wrote to priests in the Washington Archdiocese 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 USA state.

As a result of the church cover-up, nearly every instance of abuse was too old to be prosecuted, but the report referenced at least two priests who had been sexually assaulting children within the last decade.

The grand jury stated The Boston Globe's reporting on clergy sex abuse prompted multiple victims in Pennsylvania to come forward.

Garabedian, who said he is representing six Pennsylvania church abuse victims, added the "church is going to fight as hard as it can" not to pay any damages. It was none of those things.

The grand jury's report comes at a time of renewed scrutiny and fresh scandal at the highest levels of the US Catholic Church. Pope Francis stripped 88-year-old Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of his title and ordered him to a lifetime of prayer and penance amid allegations that McCarrick had for years sexually abused boys and had sexual misconduct with adult seminarians.

Coming hard on the heels of the revelations about Archbishop McCarrick, who preceded Wuerl in Washington, D.C., the cardinal has found himself on the receiving end of very pointed and sustained criticism.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl is accused of covering up abuse while Bishop of Pittsburgh
Image Cardinal Donald Wuerl is accused of covering up abuse while Bishop of Pittsburgh

The attorney general said that Catholic bishops covered up child sexual abuse by priests and reassigned them repeatedly to different parishes.

Several dioceses made a decision to strip the accused of their anonymity and released the names of clergy members who were accused of sexual misconduct. The state Supreme Court says they'll consider their claims, but, for now, their identities will be concealed.

USA bishops have acknowledged that more than 17,000 people nationwide have reported being molested by priests and others in the church.

"We pledge to maintain transparency and to provide for the permanent removal of offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone", the bishops said.

Little is known about the petitioning clergy members, despite hundreds of pages of related court documents that have since been made public.

"We can't charge most of the culprits", the report states.

In the section detailing abuse in the Diocese of Greensburg, the name of just one person was redacted under a section entitled "History of Bishops of the Diocese of Greensburg".

In the Diocese of Greensburg, Father Raymond Lukac allegedly impregnated a 17-year-old girl, forged another pastor's signature on a marriage certificate, and then divorced her shortly after she gave birth.

According to the report, priests engaged in sexual contact with minors and the evidence shows that Diocesan administrators, including the bishops, had knowledge of this conduct.

Almost every instance of abuse is too old to be prosecuted based on the state's statute of limitations, although presentments were issued against priests accused of sexually assaulting children within the past decade in the Greensburg and Erie dioceses.

This included downplaying accusations of rape and molestation with euphemisms like "horseplay" and "wrestling", transferring accused priests around the country or placing them on "health leave" while keeping them on the church payroll - at times to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

"As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic Bishops", read the statement signed by USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Ind., committee chairman for the USCCB's Protection of Children and Young People.



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