Oral Sex, Then Holy Water: Report Documents Abuse by Priests

Frederick Owens
August 18, 2018

A growing number of Catholic church leaders and diocesan officials are responding with sadness and shame to the sweeping state grand jury report released on August 14 that details widespread sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania and the Roman Catholic Church's systematic efforts to ignore, obscure, or cover up allegations.

For the first time since the release of the grand jury report on sex abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses, Cardinal Donald Wuerl is speaking out.

The findings echoed many earlier church investigations around the country that found widespread sexual abuse and attempts to hide it. US bishops have acknowledged that more than 17,000 people nationwide have reported being molested by priests and others in the church going back to 1950.

US bishops adopted widespread reforms in 2002 when clergy abuse became a national crisis for the church, including stricter requirements for reporting accusations to law enforcement and a streamlined process for removing clerics. Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. "Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent", Burke said.

Now comes a statement from the Vatican on Thursday - from spokesman Greg Burke, specifically - that says the Holy See is taking the report "with great seriousness".

In his defense, Wuerl said in a statement, "While I understand this report may be critical of some of my actions, I believe the report confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse".

Church officials "routinely and purposefully described the abuse as horseplay and wrestling" and simply "inappropriate conduct", Shapiro said.

Carolyn Fortney said of a priest who abused her, "He would always have his hands on me".

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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.

Survivor James Faluszczuk, who was abused by a priest in the Erie diocese, center, speaks with media after the press conference, August 14, 2018, in Harrisburg, Penn.

Lennon, however, says members of SNAP include both male and female victims, and the grand jury report does state that young girls were impregnated by their priests.

Since the abuse crisis became public in the 2000s, the USA church has spent more than $3bn in settlements, according to Bishop Accountability.

Though Dougherty maintained that the Vatican is treating the Catholic church less as "a moral, faith-based organization" than "a business", he told Hill that he is "at peace" now that the report is out.

Pope Francis reads from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, the Vatican on Wednesday.

Francis had recently accepted the resignation from cardinal's rank of former Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who has been accused of sexual abuse.

"It is also part of this catastrophe that so many faithful priests who are pursuing holiness and serving with integrity are tainted by this failure".

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