The truth is emanating in Pennsylvania as bishops and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church face accusations of veiling numerous accounts of child abuse and rape.
The 900 page Pennsylvania grand jury report outlines testimonies from more than 1,000 children in just 70 years who have claimed abuse from over 300 Catholic priests. At the center of this report are accusations toward Donald Wuerl, the Cardinal of the Washington diocese.
In March of 1989, Wuerl paid 500,000 dollars in hush money to victims and their families who had been sexually assaulted by the diocese.
“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” wrote the grand jury in its report. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.”
The grand jury wrote in the report that the Bishops of the Catholic churches in Pennsylvania followed a “playbook for concealing the truth” by using terms such as “inappropriate contact” rather than “rape.” Even in instances where priests were removed from their positions, the community was deceived and never knew the true reasons behind the removal of an accused priest.
The sexual assaults outlined in the grand jury report include deceit and manipulation backed by justification of God’s will and intention for the children’s lives. Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro explained the situation by saying that the abusers, “weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse.”
In one case, priests allegedly had a young boy stand on a bed in a rectory, strip naked and pose as Christ on the cross for them; the priests took photos of their victim that they added to their collection of pedophelic pornogrpahy.
In another account, a father in the Catholic church prepared his students to perform oral sex by telling them that Mary had to lick Jesus clean after he was born. One priest referred to himself as an “instrument of God” before forcing himself on a student.
In an interview with CNN, Wuerl stated that, “the report confirms, I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse”.
To support this, in an article written by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2003, Wuerl had “a national reputation for zero tolerance of priests who molest minors” at that time.
Shapiro, insists that Wuerl is not telling the truth. He justifies his accusation by asserting that the church’s own documents and records from their secret archives contradict Wuerl’s initial response to the grand jury report.
The Vatican press office have refused to comment on the allegations thus far.
Unfortunately for many of the victims, the time to achieve criminal justice has expired, according to Pennsylvania state’s Statute of Limitations. The statute allows victims of child sex abuse to file civil suits until they are 30 years old, and criminal charges can only be filed until victims are 50. In this case specifically, the oldest victim to speak before the grand jury was 83 years old.
Thus far, only two of the cases outlined in the report have generated criminal charges.
The six dioceses that were investigated—Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton—in the Pennsylvania grand jury report have released the names of the priests who have been accused.