According to a new grand jury report that includes 250,000 pages worth of internal documents from six Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania, more than 300 “predator priests” have been accused of the sexual abuse of over 1,000 child victims over a period of 70 years.
The grand jury report includes, among other things, the case of a ring of pedophile priests in Pittsburgh that raped their male victims as well as having taken pornographic pictures of them. In the photos, the victims are marked with gold crosses to wear, making them easily recognizable to their abusers.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro stood before some of the victims of the Pennsylvania diocese cases, (including Pittsburgh and the state capital of Harrisburg) on Tuesday in an emotional news conference. Shapiro in announcing the report said that for the first time, “we can begin to understand the systematic coverup of church officials”.
The report was written over the course of two years, by 23 grand jurors and states clearly the process of authorities of the church protecting the clergy all while abusing victims with payoffs and silencing any attempts to defame their character. The report was assembled through testimony and reports of abuse from the diocese that had been known to priests as “secret archives.” They were to be kept hidden from the public, but are now available to all.
The scope of the problem is unbelievable. With the report only covering six of the eight dioceses in Pennsylvania, it chronicles in detail how the Catholic hierarchy (from the diocese to the Vatican) worked to not only mitigate the church’s exposure, but the lengths they went to try and “avoid scandal.”
The FBI reviewed a series of practices engaged in by leaders of the church to try and disguise the truth. For example, those who documented cases for internal use would never use the word “rape,” but instead chose “inappropriate contact” to describe the act. The investigations were never held by trained personnel, but rather other clergy members who knew the scope of the problem. Instead of psychiatric facilities, the priests being accused of pedophilia would be investigated by church-run health centers. This was all done in house to protect their own. The only time priests would move out of the area is if their communities found out and they would then be moved to communities where their identities were unknown. Shockingly, the hierarchy had been instructed to not inform law enforcement about any abuses reported by parishioners, to consider any such cases as an “internal personnel matter.” And so, the sexual abuse of children carried on.
The grand jury report includes horrific stories of child pornography, anal rape, fondling, pregnancies, oral sex, and suicides all perpetrated on children by priests, priests who knew and covered it up, priests who were moved around by church leaders who all knew it was going on and who often continued abusing once moved, not ceasing to offend again.
On one particular case of a woman raped by a priest when she was seven in her hospital room while in recovery from a surgery performed on her tonsils, she was again raped by that same priest at age 13, and then again at age 19 while she was pregnant. She considered suicide. So what happened to the priest for not only for raping this woman but for several other molestations and rapes to which the priest admitted? Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg, in submitting the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated, “I believe the scandal caused by his admission of the sexual abuse of minor girls has been sufficiently repaired by acceptance of the penal precept.”
Basically, the priest was punished by leading a life of prayer and penance after the reviewing of his file by The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Prayer as punishment for repeatedly molesting and raping children. Let that sink in.
So it seems that rules were for the Catholics who came to mass and sat in the pews, and not to those who stood behind the altar. Although those attending were supposed to refrain from same-sex relationships, masturbation, abortions and premarital sex, these things did not apply to the clergy.
As a matter of fact, the priests in Pennsylvania were given a pass for paying to abort the children of the young girls that ended up pregnant after being raped by them.
One thing is clear from the release of the grand jury reports, the Roman Catholic church has made the protection of its rapist, sexual abusers and pedophiles their highest priority.
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