More than 300 'predator' priests abused children in Pennsylvania

Report Pennsylvania priests molested over 1,000 children

The abuse of more than 1,000 children for decades by hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania was systemically covered up by church officials, including the current archbishop of Washington, according to a grand jury report.

As the Pennsylvania Attorney General announced the results of an exhaustive, almost 900 page grand jury investigation into sexual abuse by hundreds of Catholic priests, former Bishop of Pittsburgh, Cardinal Donald J. Wuerl, released a statement calling attention to three words he says are unfairly attributed to him.

He has deep personal ties with the Catholic church in Pennsylvania having been born there and been involved in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In June, the Roman Catholic Church of Rochester divulged that it had paid $1.6 million to at least 20 children who had been sexually abused by 24 priests since 1950. "But we hope there will also be self-reflection within the church, and a deep commitment to creating a safer environment for its children".

"Until very recently, there was a sense among church officials that they lived and worked in a kind of separate preserve, and even that the rules of the land didn't really apply to them", says McKiernan.

He went on: "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing".

For their part, the Pennsylvania bishops responded with statements of apology and promises of healing and vigilance. The report also chronicles how the church used an array of tactics to hide the abuse, including lying to the community about why a priest was removed from the parish, transferring pedophile priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in a "secret archive". "I know all of us who love our Faith can't believe that we must once again ask the question, how could this happen in our Church?"

The report was originally ordered to be made public by a judge back in June.

A Pennsylvania bishop "received inquiries from the Diocese of NY and the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont about Dorsey", the report stated.

The report alleges a long-standing strategy of "abuse - deny - cover up" by the six Pennsylvania dioceses that were the subject of the investigation: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. The other dioceses have pledged to do the same.

Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. But after they softened their judgment the next year, saying Kryston did not demonstrate ephebophilia, a sexual attraction to adolescents, but should still not be in ministry with teenage students, Wuerl assigned the priest to a parish.

Grand Jury Report Identifies 300 ‘Predator Priests’ Who Allegedly Molested More Than 1,000 Children In 6 Pennsylvania Dioceses

You are not signed in as a Premium user; we rely on Premium users to support our news reporting. Some will criticize the tone and the brutally descriptive recounting of victim accounts and many inaccuracies. The effort resulted in criminal charges against several members of the church.

For the victims, Pennsylvania's statute of limitations make their cases too old to be prosecuted.

The grand jury also said a "civil window" law is necessary to allow older victims to sue the dioceses for damage inflicted on their lives when they were children.

The report faulted Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former longtime bishop of Pittsburgh who now leads the Washington archdiocese, for what it said was his part in the concealment of clergy sexual abuse.

In more than 150 counts, Pettit alleged that the priests sexually abused the two boys from 1981 to 1987.

"But the letter was not for the girl", the grand jury said.

The group has documented settlements for 5,679 alleged victims of Catholic clergy - only a third of 15,235 allegations that bishops say they have received through 2009.

"It is nearly unbearable", Bishop McKnight wrote in the Catholic Missourian.

Cardinal Wuerl replaced Cardinal McCarrick as Washington's archbishop after he retired in 2006.

Keeler, who died in 2017 at age 86, spent much of his career in Pennsylvania and was bishop of the Harrisburg diocese from 1984 until 1989. In some cases, priests who were raping children were provided with housing and living expenses by their dioceses, regardless of whether those resources were being used to facilitate more abuse.

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