In a shocking revelation, by a landmark report by grand jury of US State of Pennsylvania it has come to light that over 1,000 children had been molested by hundreds of Catholic priests in six dioceses in Pennsylvania. The jury is of the belief that the exact number of the victims may be much more and potentially be in thousands as many records could not be traced and also there was an obvious hesitance on part of victims to come forward and report. The report states that over 300 priests had committed the crime over decades starting 1950s.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania has stated that the probe which spread over two years has unearthed a guided cover up of the abuse by senior officials of the church both in Pennsylvania and the Vatican. Shapiro said in a new conference, “The cover-up was sophisticated. Shockingly, all the while the leadership of the church had all the records of the abuse and the cover-up. The documents which have been mentioned are from the ‘Secret Archives’ of the dioceses. These have formed the backbone of the investigation.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl who is not leading the Washington archdiocese, has also been blamed by the report as he played a part in concealing the sexual abuse by clergies. Wuerl has served as a bishop of Pittsburg for a long time and is regarded as a highest-profile cardinals in the country. Wuerl, in his defence has issued a statement wherein he claims to have acted with caution keeping in mind the plight of victims and prevention of any such acts in future. The investigations of the jury also found abuse accusations in various dioceses concerning more than 50 percent of 3.2 million Catholics in Pennsylvania. The shocking findings echoed the reports of previous investigations about rampant sexual abuse by clergy and the concealment of the same by church officials.
The findings of the report are a complete shock and disbelief. Most of the victims were boys although there have been girls too with the range of abuse spanning groping, masturbation, anal, oral and even vaginal rape. Church had been labelling the abuse as mere horseplay and wrestling but the report has pulled the veil and clearly stated that it was purely child sexual abuse and rape. Children was told that the abuse was normal and holy. The church in its cover up had allowed the priests to operate for over 40 years and had reassigned them repeatedly to different parishes. The church had shielded the crime for fears of negative publicity and other liabilities financially. There were no police reports made about the accused clergy and even the victims were held from reporting.
However, despite the findings, justice will be a distant dream as the crimes are too old to be prosecuted. Such crimes cannot be charged criminally by the state. Many clergy have appealed the court from to prevent its release as it stands in violation of their constitutional rights of reputation and due process of law. The Supreme Court has, however, over-ruled that the public had a right to see it but the names of the accused priests were to remain black until further investigations.