The leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement Tuesday in response to a report by the Pennsylvania grand jury on clerical sex abuse.
“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the USCCB, and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette in a joint statement.
The 884-page grand jury report lists the names of 300 priests accused of sexual abuse over the past 70 years, many of whom are no longer alive, and alleges a systematic cover-up by members of the Church hierarchy. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said it was “the largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”
A prior comprehensive investigation into clergy sex abuse resulted in the 2004 John Jay report, which found that over 80 percent of abuse was committed against male victims, which has been used to underscore the predominantly homosexual nature of the clerical abuse crisis.
In its 2011 follow-up report, the John Jay College Research Team found that same-sex sexual behavior in the seminary “was significantly related to the increased likelihood of a male child victim.”
In Tuesday’s statement, the bishops thanked the victims of sexual abuse for coming forward with their testimony.
“We are grateful for the courage of the people who aided the investigation by sharing their personal stories of abuse,” it reads. “As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops,” it says.
The bishops say they are “profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank,” while also promising “to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused” as well as working resolutely “so that such abuse cannot happen.”
“We pledge to maintain transparency and to provide for the permanent removal of offenders from ministry and to maintain safe environments for everyone,” the bishops said.
“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.”
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