Two weeks ago I wrote this post about a grand jury report that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved for release. News reports identified it as a 900-page report on more than 300 priests who had abused children in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Yesterday, the report was released.
It is not an easy read.
You can read the report at the above link. In the format at the above link the report is 1,356 pages long. It covers the myriad ways that the more than 300 priests abused children. Those who compiled the report had to review truly horrendous crimes.
One priest raped a seven-year-old girl while visiting her in the hospital after she had her tonsils removed.
A boy was repeatedly raped from ages 13 to 15. The priest used so much force that he caused severe spinal injuries to the boy’s back. The boy later became addicted to painkillers and eventually died of an overdose.
Another priest impregnated a 17-year-old girl, forged the head pastor's signature on a marriage certificate, and then divorced her just a few months later. That priest was able to continue to work in the clergy thanks to the efforts of a "benevolent bishop" outside Pennsylvania.
One priest confessed to anally and orally raping 15 boys as young as seven-years-old. That same priest, after confessing, was later commended by his bishop as a "person of candor and sincerity." Years went by before the priest was finally removed from the clergy, but the bishop told the parish to conceal the reason for his removal. "Nothing else need be noted," the bishop stated.
There are more than 1,000 victims covered in the report, however, the jury notes that they believe there are thousands of victims who never came forward or the evidence of their abuse was lost. The oldest victim in the report is currently 83-years-old.
Many of the priests named in the report have died. And even many of the priests still alive are not in danger of prosecution. The jury members admit in the report that “As a consequence of the cover-up, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted."
Speaking at a press conference yesterday regarding the report's release, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, "We all wish more charges could be filed, but due to the church’s manipulation of our weak laws in Pennsylvania, too many predators were out of reach."
Shapiro fought for weeks to get the report released in the face of opposition from church leaders who were concerned about the reputations of their priests. Shapiro ended up writing a letter directly to Pope Francis to call his attention to the matter.
Victims shared the stage with Shapiro yesterday and they fought back tears while he spoke. The grand jury's report calls for changes to the laws that prevent older victims from pressing charges or suing the church for damages.
The men who committed these atrocious crimes are the same men who spent every Sunday morning preaching about Hell and the price for sins. If you ask me, they are lucky their imaginary Hell does not exist.
I wish it did though, for their sake. What they have done sickens me to my core. To do this to children, and to such terrifying scale, these priests really do deserve to suffer. But they were protected by the Catholic Church, by the shield of faith. Only two of the priests have committed these crimes within the statute of limitations. Only those two priests are being charged within the report.
Any God who would allow his priests to do this is not worth worshipping.