Thousands Of Children Abused Over Decades By Hundreds Of Pennsylvania Priests: Report
The report follows a two-year investigation which contained graphic examples of children being groomed and sexually abused by clergymen.
What you need to know
- Hundreds of Pennsylvanian priests abused thousands of children over a period spanning several decades according to a new report
- The report follows a 2 year investigation which saw evidence including documents from secret archives and handwritten confessions by priests
- Of the 301 priests cited only two of the priests are still subject to prosecution.
Thousands of children were sexually abused by more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania over a 70-year period, a two year investigation has uncovered.
Victims were silenced through "the weaponisation of faith" and a systematic cover-up campaign by bishops, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shiparo, who released the 884-page grand jury report.
“It was child sexual abuse, including rape, committed by grown men - priests - against children,” Shapiro said on Tuesday.
The report details graphic examples of children being groomed and sexually abused by clergymen, including one priest who allegedly molested five sisters in one family and 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.
In a particularly disturbing example, one priest allegedly told children “how Mary had to lick Jesus clean after he was born” in order to groom them for oral sex.
“Children were taught that this abuse was not only normal but that it was holy,” Shapiro said.
The investigation was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests, Shiparo told reporters.
With more than 1000 victims identified, it is the broadest report on Catholic clergy sex abuse in U.S. history.
"As a consequence of the coverup, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted," the grand jury said in their report.
"But that is not to say there are no more predators."
While more than 300 "predator priests" were cited in the report, only two are still subject to prosecution.
“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades," a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' President and Chairman said after the report was released.
The new revelations come in a critical time for the Roman Catholic church with accusations of child sex abuse and cover ups continuing to surface around the world, including in Chile where all 34 bishops offered to resign over the cover-up of sexual abuse in the country.
Just last month in Australia Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse.
His resignation came just weeks after the launch of the $4 billion National Redress Scheme for up to 60,000 survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, which was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.