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Friday, August 31, 2018

Vatican expresses "shame" for sexual abuse in the United States

Por Nina

The Holy See expressed its "shame and pain" for the sexual abuse committed for decades by priests in Pennsylvania, United States, and reiterated the call of Pope Francis to make every effort to eradicate "this tragic horror that destroys the lives of innocents ". On Tuesday, August 14, the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania published a report revealing more than a thousand alleged cases of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy during the past 70 years in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. The 884-page report was written by 23 members of a grand jury, which for 18 months examined half a million pages of documents.

The FBI helped with the investigation of these cases between 1947 and 2017. The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Greg Burke, indicated that "in light of the report that has been made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express feelings about these horrible crimes: shame and pain." "The Holy See takes the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the long Interim Report that it has produced very seriously.

The Holy See unequivocally condemns the sexual abuse of minors," it said in a statement released on August 16. "The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. These facts have betrayed trust and robbed the victims of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be assumption of responsibility, both by the abusers and by those who allowed it to occur." The statement also notes that "most of the report refers to abuses committed before the early 2000s." "Having found hardly any cases after 2002, the conclusions of the Grand Jury are consistent with previous studies that show how the reforms made by the Catholic Church in the United States have drastically reduced the incidence of abuses committed by the clergy."

"The Holy See urges to be in constant reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. It also emphasizes the need to obey civil legislation, including the obligation to report cases of child abuse," it said. Greg Burke said that "the Holy Father understands well how these crimes can shake the faith and encouragement of believers, and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the Church and throughout society." "The victims should know that the Pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are its priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to eradicate this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent," said the spokesman of the Holy See.

The final report, drafted by a popular jury to which the conclusions of the investigation had been submitted, indicates that "almost all cases" have already been prescribed and cannot be criminally prosecuted. However two priests are charged, one for repeated sexual assaults on several children, the most recent in 2010. The other priest, accused of assaulting a 7-year-old boy, pleaded guilty at the end of July, but the accusation is held a felony, not a crime, and only a maximum of five years in prison.

Although they cannot be investigated, the jury has also made public the names of dozens of men in the Church accused of pedophilia in the investigation. The report speaks of sexual assaults at times against alleged victims of less than 10 years. It cites the case of a priest who abused five sisters, of whom the youngest was only 18 months old when the alleged acts began. Many of the facts narrated in the report show that the hierarchy often acted so that cases of sexual abuse were not disclosed and to protect the perpetrators of the attacks.

Bishops and cardinals "were protected, and many of them, some of them mentioned in this report, were promoted."As long as that does not change, we believe it is too early to close the chapter of the sexual scandals of the Catholic Church. At the end of July, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, accused of sexually abusing a teenager. Other senior prelates were forced to resign because they closed their eyes, like Cardinals Roger Mahony (Los Angeles) and Bernard Law (Boston), who died at the end of 2017.