Vatican expresses 'shame and sorrow' over Pennsylvania child abuse scandal

Church report: 1,000 child victims in Pennsylvania

The Vatican expressed "shame and sorrow" on Thursday over revelations that Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused about 1,000 people over seven decades, as U.S. bishops vowed to involve non-clerical experts in abuse investigations. This is expressed by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, in relation to the report made public in Pennsylvania on August 14th.

"Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these disgusting crimes: shame and sorrow", Vatican spokesman Greg Burke wrote.

"The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors", said a statement issued by the Vatican on Thursday.

The 18-month investigation graphically detailed numerous instances of Catholic clergy members raping and molesting children in several Pennsylvania dioceses, which in total represent about 1.7 million Catholics.

In uncharacteristically strong language for the Vatican even in matters such as the long-running abuse scandals staining the US church, spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement that victims should know "the pope is on their side". Moreover, the statement underscores "the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements".

Meanwhile, many state attorneys general have a narrow scope of investigative authority, unless a local prosecutor refers a case to them. The Diocese of Raleigh, which covers the eastern half of North Carolina, said in a statement that two of the priests named, Fr. William Presley and Fr. Robert Spangenberg, worked in North Carolina in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"The silence from the Vatican is disturbing", said Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

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It is the most extensive investigation of Catholic clergy abuse ever undertaken in the US.

The Holy See noted that most allegations mentioned in the report are from before the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the USA bishops in 2002 to prevent clerical abuse.

In 2017, the Pennsylvania House of Representative did pass a bill that would give child sex abuse victims until the age of 50 to report a crime.

At times, the lengthy catalog of clergy sexual abuses in the report is hard to read.

Cardinal resignations are extremely rare, and McCarrick's was the first time a prelate had lost his cardinal's rank in a sexual abuse scandal.

In an emailed statement to The Epoch Times, the Diocese of Allentown said the past abuse was "abhorrent and tragic", while adding that "much has changed over the past 15 years".

Over the years the sexual abuse scandal has taken a heavy toll on the U.S. Catholic Church, driving down attendance and donations and leading to the closure of parishes as the Church paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.

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