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

Another abused a seven-year-old boy whom he then forced to talk about the episode in confession.

Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday. Even so, the headline numbers speak for themselves.

That work detailed some of the most horrific sexual abuse allegations about Catholic priests ever seen.

"It makes you sick, just reading this", said the bishop, who grew up in Pittsburgh and spent much of his career there.

"For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted", the grand jury report said.

But when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a damning 1,356-page report Tuesday, Burns said he felt ill.

As accusers wept behind him, Shapiro described alleged abuse by priests in six of the state's eight dioceses, including a group of Pittsburgh clergymen accused of ordering an altar boy to strip naked and pose as Christ on the cross while they photographed him. "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".

One priest sexually abused five sisters from the same family.

In almost every case, prosecutors found that the statute of limitations has run out, meaning that criminal charges can not be filed.

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The attorney general said that Catholic bishops covered up child sexual abuse by priests and reassigned them repeatedly to different parishes.

The report echoes the findings of many earlier church investigations around the country in its description of widespread sexual abuse by clergy and church officials' concealment of it. "The reason it doesn't is because the Vatican has made a choice not to allow it".

Many victims claimed they were drugged or otherwise manipulated.

James VanSickle of Pittsburgh, who testified he was sexually attacked in 1981 by a priest in the Erie Diocese, called the report's release "a major victory to get our voice out there, to get our stories told".

While the report names hundreds of priests, some names remain redacted due to claims that naming them violates their constitutional rights.

The report comes at a time of fresh scandal at the highest levels of the U.S. Catholic Church.

"The pattern was abuse, deny and cover up", Shapiro said, adding that church officials sought to keep abuse allegations quiet long enough so they could no longer be prosecuted under Pennsylvania's statute of limitations. Wuerl, who was bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese from 1988 to 2006, disputed the allegations.

"One thing this is going to do is put pressure on prosecutors elsewhere to take a look at what's going on in their neck of the woods", McKiernan said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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