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Two days after a Pennsylvania grand jury released an 884-page report detailing more than 1,000 cases of child sex abuse by 300 "predator priests" in six dioceses dating back to the 1940s, the Vatican responded Thursday, condemning "unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors." Responding to the report specifically — which also documented widespread cover-ups of the child rape and abuse by bishops and other church leaders — Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said "there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow."
"The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible," Burke said. "The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur." For Pope Francis, he added, "those who have suffered are his priority, and the church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent." Burke said Francis wants victims to know "the pope is on their side." Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who empaneled the two-year grand jury, suggested the pope push to enact the grand jury's recommendations on extending or ending the statue of limitations for suing over or prosecuting child sex abuse.
The U.S. Catholic Church has been dealing with the fallout from decades of child sex abuse by clergy since The Boston Globe uncovered the extent of it in the Boston archdiocese in the early 2000s, and Chile, Ireland, Australia, and other countries have since uncovered similar abuses.
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