Vatican voices 'shame and sorrow' over damning sex abuse report

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 Pa. Tuesday Aug. 14 2018

The Vatican said the abuse that took place in six dioceses of Pennsylvania signified a "betrayal of trust" that "robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith".

In its statement the Vatican said: "The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers".

A Pennsylvania grand jury said its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, leader of the Washington Archdiocese, was accused in the report of helping to protect abusive priests when he was Pittsburgh's bishop from 1988 to 2006.

This story will be updated.

The Vatican told victims Pope Francis "is on their side" and promised action to "root out this tragic horror". Marie have all gone to court against insurance companies who refuse to cover millions of dollars in payments made to victims abused by priests.

In recent years, the US bishops have adopted widespread reforms, including mandatory criminal background checks for priests and lay employees, a requirement that abuse allegations be reported to law enforcement, the suspension of priests while they are being investigated, and permanent removal from ministry when accusations are substantiated.

At the time of his transfer, the Diocese's release states, there were no reports of any accusations of sexual abuse involving Bostwick as noted in the timeline of the grand jury's report.

DiNardo also deplored the findings of the grand jury report and said the bishops would work to create a new process to review allegations of misconduct by bishops.

In a New York Times op-ed, he encouraged Catholics to speak to their pastors and bishops and express their anger to the Vatican's representatives.

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 USA church that was first exposed in Boston in 2002.

The entire Chilean delegation of bishops tendered its resignation to the pope in May after a series of meetings at the Vatican, but Francis has so far accepted the resignation of only five Chilean bishops.

As church officials scrambled to defend themselves, the state attorney general's office said its hotline for victims had lit up, fielding more than 150 calls within 24 hours of the report becoming public.

"There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these awful crimes: shame and sorrow", it said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press conference yesterday the abuse "touched every diocese and it is horrifying" and "the cover-up was sophisticated" with the shocking details hidden away in a "secret archive".

But while Tuesday's report led to charges against two priests, one of whom has pleaded guilty, the majority of those responsible are dead and the vast majority of crimes happened too long ago to prosecute, officials said.

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