HNewsWire-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.
The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The report said there are likely thousands of more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward.
Another article will highlight the heroic Catholic priests and bishops who are risking their lives, to tell the truth about what is happening in their church. Some of these whistleblowers are now in hiding in fear for their lives, while others have been killed or blackballed from parish work.
The focus of this article is on the types of criminal charges levied by the Pennsylvania grand jury investigation against predator priests and the cover-up of those crimes by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of bishops and cardinals.
The Protestant churches also have clergy and staff that who have committed sex crimes, but the focus today is on the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).
This is the second of three articles on pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). This article goes much deeper than one on one sex crimes against children. It also looks at the systematic cover-up of those crimes by the Catholic hierarchy.
A future article will look at the trafficking of children for use as sex slaves and the use of children for ritualistic sacrifices. Another article will highlight the heroic Catholic priests and bishops who are risking their lives, to tell the truth about what is happening in their church.
Some of these whistleblowers are now in hiding in fear for their lives, while others have been killed or blackballed from parish work.
The lives of thousands of children have been destroyed by the network of pedophile priests. The simple fact that the disease of pedophilia is a strong part of Christianity had come down through the centuries from the very beginnings of the religion. Christianity came out of a culture that saw sex with children as being ‘pure’ and therefore was not considered to truly be sex. Therefore, when the time came that it was decided that members of the clergy should be celibate to avoid the issues that arise from inheritance sex with children was still not considered. That sex with children was not considered abnormal at that time were the many positions children could hold in service to others wherein sex was considered the primary role such as cabin boys on ships, squires in service to knights, and pageboys to members of royalty to name a few. As Europeans left their shores to explore the world they proudly took the disease with them and often documented (often the documentation was done by priests such as the Jesuits and the Dominicans) how they or their compatriots would take children or women to satisfy their morbid sexual desires and often, many women and children would be shipped back to the explorer’s homelands to become sexual slaves for nobility and/or friends, I think it’s well documented that from the beginning of the Catholic Church sex with children was acceptable,
It catalogs horrific instances of abuse: a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out; a victim tied up and whipped with leather straps by a priest; and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a young girl and arranging for her to have an abortion.
The sexual abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church for more than 15 years, ever since explosive allegations emerged out of Boston in 2002. But even after paying billions of dollars in settlements and adding new prevention programs, the church has been dogged by a scandal that is now reaching its highest ranks. The Pennsylvania report comes soon after the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who is accused of sexually abusing young priests and seminarians, as well as minors.
The grand jury said that while some accused priests were removed from ministry, the church officials who protected them remained in office or even got promotions. One bishop named in the report as vouching for an abusive priest was Cardinal Donald Wuerl, now the archbishop of Washington. “Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal,” the jury wrote.
The report is unlikely to lead to new criminal charges or civil lawsuits under the current law because the statute of limitations has expired. Only two of the cases in the report so far have led to criminal charges.
In statements released on Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops called for prayers for victims and for the church, promised greater openness and said that measures instituted in recent years were already making the church safer.
But several bishops, including Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh, rejected the idea the church had concealed abuse.
“There was no cover-up going on,” Bishop Zubik said in a news conference on Tuesday. “I think that it’s important to be able to state that. We have over the course of the last 30 years, for sure, been transparent about everything that has in fact been transpiring.”
Church officials followed a “playbook for concealing the truth,” the grand jury said, minimizing the abuse by using words like “inappropriate contact” instead of “rape”; assigning priests untrained in sexual abuse cases to investigate their colleagues; and not informing the community of the real reasons behind removing an accused priest.
“Tell his parishioners that he is on ‘sick leave,’ or suffering from ‘nervous exhaustion.’ Or say nothing at all,” the report said.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office initiated the investigation, said in a news conference, “They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.”
He said that the cover-up by senior church officials “stretched in some cases all the way up to the Vatican.”
No other state has seen more grand jury investigations of abuses in the church than Pennsylvania, where about one of every four residents is Catholic and the local attorneys general have been particularly responsive to victims. Previous grand juries examined the dioceses of Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown; the new report covers the rest of the state.
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Mr. Shapiro was surrounded on Tuesday by about 20 abuse victims and their family members, who gasped and wept when he revealed that one priest had abused five sisters in the same family, including one girl beginning when she was 18 months old.
Some victims said in interviews that they were relieved to finally be heard and to have their perpetrators publicly named.
“I had gone to two bishops with allegations over five years, and they ignored and downplayed my allegations,” said the Rev. James Faluszczak, an Erie priest on extended leave who was abused as a child and who testified before the grand jury. “It’s that very management of secrets that has given cover to predators.”
For others, it was too little, too late. Frances Samber, whose brother Michael was abused by a priest in Pittsburgh and committed suicide in 2010, said, “It’s good that the public sees this, but where is the justice? What do you do about it? Why aren’t these people in prison?”
The Pennsylvania grand jury met for two years, reviewed 500,000 documents from dioceses’ secret archives, and heard testimony from dozens of victims and the bishop of Erie. The report covers the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. Two of the dioceses — Greensburg and Harrisburg — tried to quash the grand jury investigation last year, but later backed off that stance.
The report lists each of the accused priests and documents how they were sent from parish to parish, and even sometimes out of state. The grand jury said that while the list is long, “we don’t think we got them all.” The report added, “We feel certain that many victims never came forward, and that the dioceses did not create written records every single time they heard something about abuse.”
In the Greensburg diocese, the Rev. John Sweeney was charged by the attorney general’s office with sexually abusing a boy in the early 1990s. Father Sweeney pleaded guilty this month and awaits sentencing. In the Erie diocese, the Rev. David Poulson was arrested in May and charged with sexually assaulting a boy for eight years, starting at age 8. Father Poulson has yet to enter a plea.
The Pennsylvania State Legislature has so far resisted calls to lift the statute of limitations, which has prevented childhood victims from filing civil lawsuits against the church after they turn 30. For many victims, it has taken decades to gain the courage to speak about the abuse, long past when the law would allow them to sue.
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“It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. Let me tell you something, friend, it is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated. It’s better to stand alone with the truth, then to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel and Paul said, ‘If any man preaches any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Proverbs 31:8 (NIV)
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute
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