Luzerne County priests prominent in abuse list
- Alfred Griffith
A landmark grand jury report says hundreds of priests preyed on boys and girls in six Pennsylvania dioceses, where at least 1,000 were sexually assaulted over decades as top church officials, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, and the Vatican systematically worked to cover it up.
Pennsylvania's attorney general launched an investigation into six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses after separate probes into the other two dioceses revealed rampant abuse, per The Associated Press.
Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas also says he feels anger and pain about the report and understands it is much worse for the victims.
Dellamalva, who was ordained in 1975, last functioned as a priest in the Greensburg Diocese in 1984, before he resigned from the priesthood in 1986, according to the report.
Hundreds of pages long, the report will reveal the findings of one of the most expansive probes into clerical sexual abuse since an expose of widespread abuse and systematic efforts to cover it up rocked the Archdiocese of Boston almost two decades ago.
The grand jury heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed more than a half-million pages of internal diocesan documents, including reports by bishops to Vatican officials disclosing the details of abusive priests that they had not made public or reported to law enforcement.
The report, which covered six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a USA government agency of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. He said Persico was the only one to testify in person to the grand jury.
Pennsylvania is believed to have conducted more investigations of institutional child sex abuse than any other state.
'And all the while, shockingly, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up.
But while Tuesday's report led to charges against two priests, one of whom has pleaded guilty, the majority of those responsible are dead and the vast majority of crimes happened too long ago to prosecute, officials said.
Two of the names were redacted.
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A few of the clergymen accused in the report succeeded in having their names redacted, and Shapiro said he would argue at a September 26 court hearing for making all the names public.
Catholic author Michael Sean Winters said that, as he read the report Tuesday, he did not see the reprehensible actions of numerous bishops named in the report - such as concealing cases from the police and lying to victims' families - in the sections on Wuerl. The diocese settled with the family after requiring a confidentiality agreement, he said. In addition to sex acts, the priest collected samples of the girls' urine, pubic hair, and menstrual blood.
USA media report that Pennsylvania has had the highest number of grand jury investigations into child sex abuse in the church in the country.
"In each diocese, the bishops had the key to the 'secret archives, ' which contained both allegations and admissions of the abuse and cover-up", he said.
The statement also hints at steps to be taken in the Dallas Diocese to address the far-reaching issue of abuse of power by church leaders.
In the Diocese of Greensburg, Father Raymond Lukac allegedly impregnated a 17-year-old girl, forged another pastor's signature on a marriage certificate, and then divorced her shortly after she gave birth. Another child drank juice, only to wake up the next morning bleeding from his rectum and unable to remember what had happened.
"We pray that all survivors of sexual abuse find healing, comfort and strength" from God, the bishops said while pledging "to continue to restore trust through accompaniment, communion, accountability and justice". Courts and prosecutors have filed indictments and sued for damages in the ongoing efforts to hold the church accountable for the abuse crisis.
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.
Sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Roman Catholic Church for decades, not just in the USA but throughout the world. That story was turned into Oscar-winning Hollywood movie, Spotlight, starring Michael Keaton.
"As I have made clear throughout my more than 30 years as a bishop, the sexual abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church is a awful tragedy, and the Church can never express enough our deep sorrow and contrition for the abuse, and for the failure to respond promptly and completely".
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