The Catholic Church has been plagued with accusations of sexual abuse for years, and unfortunately, this trend doesn’t seem to be ending soon. In fact, just this week a grand jury report released a comprehensive account of widespread sexual abuse by more than 300 Catholic officials in the state of Pennsylvania.
The 800+ page report, which dates back to 1947, accuses church officials of brushing victims’ pleas for help aside to protect abusers and the reputation of the Catholic Church.
“The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid scandal,” reads the report. “Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: they hid it all.”
Until now, the report has remained sealed pending Supreme Court challenges on behalf of more than 20 individuals named in the report — sections of the report pertaining to them will remain redacted while litigation continues.
In July, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court set August 14th as the deadline to release the report. Days earlier, State Attorney General Josh Shapiro asked Pope Francis to encourage church leaders to stop “efforts to silence the survivors.”
“A comprehensive investigation by the Office of Attorney General found widespread sexual abuse of children and a systematic coverup by leaders of the Catholic Church,” wrote Shapiro. “Last month I planned to release the findings of our investigation. As I prepared to do so, anonymous petitioners implicated in this report went to court to stop me and silence the victims.”
Shapiro this week celebrated the release of the report.
“I will continue to fight to ensure every single victim is heard and every priest, bishop, and church official is held accountable for their abhorrent behavior. No one victim’s truth is any less important than another and no one’s criminal conduct any less loathsome.”
Earlier this month, the leader of one of the largest Roman Catholic dioceses in the state published a list of 71 church officials accused of sexual misconduct over the past 70 years.
Most of the men on the list are accused of sexually abusing children. Other charges include improper communication with a minor and the possession of child pornography.
This report should be a wake-up call for parents and the leaders of the Catholic Church. These marks on the church leave a horrible legacy and show that offenders of child abuse are often those we’d least expect.