It’s been one week since the release of a bombshell grand jury report that details cases of child sex abuse by priests in Pennsylvania dioceses. The report’s release has set ablaze a fire of appalled and disgusted reactions, fierce debate, and outraged calls to action. Amid the chaos, it can be hard to follow along and get the full picture.

On August 14th, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro held a press conference in which a grand jury released a heavily redacted 1,356-page report following a two-year long investigation. Shapiro said his office will be returning to court in the next month to have the full document released.

The document spans the 1940s to present, and details the cases of over 1,000 victims of child sex abuse by 301 priests in six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. Shapiro stated that the grand jury believes the current figure is low, and that the number of victims could be in the thousands.

“We don’t think we got them all. 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.”

Victim advocates say the investigation by the grand jury is the most exhaustive conducted by any state to date given its wide scope. At the news conference, Attorney General Shapiro stated:

“I’m here, finally, to announce the results of a two-year grand jury investigation into the abuse allegations and the systematic cover-up by officials in Pennsylvania and the Vatican.”

According to Shapiro, the “troves of documents” came from the church’s own archives that describe decades of abuse and the subsequent effort to cover it up by church officials. Shapiro noted the report included instances where church leadership often “lied,” and saved their compassion for suspected predators rather than victims of abuse.

The introduction of the report summarizes the vile and satanic abuses suffered by the victims of priests that were protected by church leaders who covered up their wrongdoings:

“Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were prepubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”

The cover up’s were effective, as the statute of limitations has now passed for many victims mentioned in the report to potentially seek legal action. Shapiro called it “manipulation of Pennsylvania’s weak laws governing child sexual abuse,” with many of the church leadership remaining in place or given promotions thereby “putting the institution before the safety of victims.”

The grand jury made four calls to reform the law regarding abuse cases and their handling:

• Elimination of the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse
• Create a two year “civil window” for victims who couldn’t file previously
• Clarify penalties for continually failing to report child abuse
• Prohibit “non-disclosure agreements” regarding cooperation with law enforcement

You can read the full report released the grand jury here. Below you can watch the full video of Attorney General Shapiro discussing the report, followed by statements from three victims:

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  1. In South America we do not have as many sexual maniacs – of any profession, including priests- as our cousins in North America.

  2. The effort to protect the church has and will continue to have precisely the opposite effect. The church is in real trouble.

  3. I am happy that Mr Shapiro brought this evil to the national attention. NOW is the time to eradicate child and young adult sexual abuse from society at large by investigating all the schools, professions, and organizations that attract predators. Members of the Church are definitely not alone in committing this atrocity, as I witnessed sexual predators in the military. Unfortunately, politics and ideology being what they are, prosecutors and politicians only seem hell bent on eradicating sexual abuse from the Church, not all of society, otherwise we would already have legislation proposed and passed removing the statue of limitation from all offenses, not only those committed by clerics (the national teachers union fights any equitable legislation proposed, as the Church does when she is singled out). We are also finding out that boys and girls in their late teens, while physically mature, are far from adulthood and still quite easily manipulated by predators, therefore it would behoove America to raise the age of consent to at least 21 and start teaching abstinence and respect for our bodies in our schools, rather than the pornography that passes as sex ed currently in some districts, which I have no doubt is being used as grooming by some predators of innocent naive children. May God save us all, because we will never do it on our own!

  4. In the legal profession we have the saying – “A Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich.” The phrase is not a lawyer’s lament, but simply an encapsulation of how, in fact, our legal system is supposed to work. Grand Juries compile any and all evidence and are charged with taking EVERYTHING at face value. The evidentiary standard to bring in evidence is VERY low. There is very little or no investigation of the accusations – that is for the trial at a later date (where the evidentiary standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt). So we should probably remember this when considering this matter, particularly given the incredibly massive timeframe involved, 1946 – 2002 (actually 2018, but very few at all since 2002).

  5. We need to take a big big look at wat kind of men done this these ar the very kind of men this world took a vote and said yes to these men never wanted to be a prist or bishop of Christ there joined the Catholic Church to do evil there is no room in the Catholic Church for evil my heart is broke for wat these men have done if you have a heart step down yourself and don’t leave it to Pope Francis he is a good shepherd and we ar the true church let them men never forget Jesus as seen all step down now

    • Pope Francis isn’t clear either,unfortunately. Do some more research. Look up the extraordinary 11-page written statement by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. This goes all the way to the Vatican. Recall what police busted up in the Vatican apartments within the past year. Msgr. Luigi Capozzi, was busted by Italian police during a drug-fueled gay orgy.

  6. This District Attorney should be investigating the school systems in Pennsylvania also; within the school system are found far more cases of abuse of children and young people than within the Catholic Church. Please use taxpayer money to go after these people also, Attorney General Shapiro, if you are truly concerned about ending abuse of minors.
    And – what about abuse in other religious denominations – there is an existing problem of abuse within Protestant denominations – why investigate just the Catholic Church and not these others, if you are truly concerned – otherwise it makes me wonder why just the Catholic Church was chosen for this investigation.

    • The Catholic Church makes it easy because of records kept. Other denominations do not keep extensive records. I live in MO and now the attorney general is looking into investigating at least 3 dioceses. Hmm..election year or witch hunt? And yes, let’s ask for records from schools and other churches.

      • In the state of Maryland, a public high school in the 80s had a group of male teachers that ALL of the students knew were preying on female students. It was reported to female teachers and authorities, but nothing was done about it until years later when only one of those teachers went to prison. The others moved on to other schools or were promoted; and the female teachers who were also aware kept their mouths shut perhaps to protect their careers. This is a horrible problem in our society at large and goes well beyond the Church.

  7. We have to be very honest about it. It is a homosexual epidemic in our Church
    .The homosexuals should be rooted out of the priesthood.
    Heterosexuals priest don’t prey on altar boys and seminarians, they go after women and in some cases teenage girls.
    Pedophiles are mainly homosexuals.
    I know it is vey dangereous to say this in our sex crazed society and I probably will be called a homophobe, but so be it.
    Nothing will change in the CHURCH until we start being honest about it.

    • Pedophiles are NOT mainly homosexuals.
      Though many investigated might have been homosexual, the case lies with the lack of chastity. The children that were abused, are hardly given any attention. They say about 20% were female young children, then there were probably about 20% male young children. That is 40% that are ignored in all of this, especially by the hierarchy. Shame on them.

  8. We really have to be clear about what’s going on here. It is NOT about protecting young people, otherwise the states’ attorneys general would spend their resources on pursuing pedophilia in organizations and institutions with a much, much higher rate of pedophilia than the priesthood. It IS about the piecemeal destruction of the Catholic church.

  9. My heart is broken for my church and the victims of these terrible crimes. I knew a man who was a victim of a priest. It was terrible. The church addressed these crimes like a failure of faith but that was not it. A pedophile CAN NOT BE HEALED OR CHANGED. During Pope Benedict’s time they did a report on what they called the Gay Mafia in the Vatican but the report was never released. I will not feel any relief until I see priests & bishops, & cardinals doing the perp walk with handcuffs on.

    • I agree with you, the time for a slap on the wrist has come and gone. My faith is being tested by this, how can I receive the Sacrament of Pennance from a priest who is a mere mortal and possibly a pedophile. How can they sit in judgement of you when they themselves have committed a grave sin and got away with it.
      These priest need to be defrocked, excommunicated and jailed for their sins,even the High UPS no if and or buts about it,PROSECUTE them like everyone else!!

  10. The comments of Scott Weltz & “Jane” (above) are well worth re-reading and reflecting on, as they clearly point to a “bigger picture” and thus the real world!!! Abuse is abuse … however there is a context for any abuse and so there is a difference that also needs to be considered (when one wants to be rational); those we have eyes & ears and a mind “be aware” !!!


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