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Shame of Vatican over abuse priests

Shame of Vatican over abuse priests

Some Catholics anxious that the Pope's ability to serve as a moral witness for the world could be compromised should he fail to act decisively.

Most declined to confirm or deny any investigations, said their state laws limited their ability to take on wide-ranging criminal investigations or did not respond to requests for comment.

The grand jury called for changes in the law that would scrap the statute of limitations for child sex abuse, give victims more time to file civil lawsuits and tighten legislation compelling people to report abuse they find out about.

More than 300 "predator" priests were this week accused of abusing more than 1,000 children across seven decades in Pennsylvania.

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

Some victims were plied with alcohol and groped or molested, the report says. Others were orally, vaginally or anally raped, according to the grand jurors.

In New York, the attorney general, unlike district attorneys, doesn't have the power to convene grand juries to investigate such abuses. Now the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he called the failure of bishops on the issue of child sexual abuse a "moral catastrophe".

Burke described the abuse in the report as "betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith".

He said the executive committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had outlined three goals to prevent further abuse, and punish "predators in the Church and anyone who would hide them".

Still, only about 40 of the almost 200 dioceses in the US have released lists of priests accused of abusing children, and there have been only nine investigations by a prosecutor or grand jury of a Catholic diocese or archdiocese in the USA, according to

In his statement, Burke noted that nearly all of the abuse discussed in the report happened decades ago, and very few cases have been presented since the sex abuse crisis of 2002.

Furthermore, "the Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm".

"Victims should know that the pope is on their side", Burke added.

Pope Francis immediately accepted his resignation and ordered him to pray as he awaits a church trial to consider further punishment.

"It happens everywhere, so it's not really so much a question of where has it happened, but instead, where has word gotten out, where is information about it accessible?" said Terry McKiernan, founder of, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group that tracks clergy sexual abuse cases.

"The first criterion is genuine independence", DiNardo said.

One estimate suggests up there were 100,000 United States victims.