Pennsylvania report details decades of alleged sexual abuse by priests

admin   •   August 15, 2018   •   5953

Victims crying, comforting each other | Reuters

 

Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused thousands of children over a 70-year period and silenced victims through “the weaponization of faith” and a systematic cover-up campaign by their bishops, the state attorney general said on Tuesday (August 14).

An 884-page report made public by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro after a two-year investigation contained graphic examples of children being groomed and sexually abused by clergymen. It was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests, he said.

“It was child sexual abuse, including rape, committed by grown men – priests – against children,” Shapiro told a press conference.

The attorney general said it was the most comprehensive report on Catholic clergy sex abuse in American history, nearly two decades after an expose of widespread abuse and cover-up in Boston that rocked the Roman Catholic church.

Several of the dioceses issued statements apologizing to victims and saying they were taking steps to ensure any criminal behavior was stopped. “The grand jury has challenged us as a Catholic diocese to put victims first and to continue to improve ways to protect children and youth,” Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Erie Diocese said in a statement.

As accusers wept behind him, Shapiro described alleged abuse by priests in six of the state’s eight dioceses, including a group of Pittsburgh clergymen accused of ordering an altar boy to strip naked and pose as Christ on the cross while they photographed him.

“The pattern was abuse, deny and cover up,” Shapiro said, adding that church officials sought to keep abuse allegations quiet long enough so they could no longer be prosecuted under Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations.

“Priests were raping little boys and girls,” Shapiro said. “They hid it all for decades.”

The report cited 301 priests, some of whom have died. Only two of the priests are still subject to prosecution. — Reuters

Vatican officials to visit Mexico to probe alleged sexual abuse cases involving clergies

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020

Two Vatican officials charged with investigating accusations of sexual abuse by clergy will visit Mexico for a fact-finding mission later this month, the Church said on Tuesday (March 3).

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu will meet with church leaders and alleged victims during their week-long visit to the world’s second largest Roman Catholic country, the Mexican bishops’ conference said.

Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, told a news conference in Mexico City that the Church had requested aid from the Vatican in order to help the youngest and most vulnerable in Mexico.

Scicluna and Bertomeu are part of a taskforce created last year by Pope Francis to assist in countries where the Church had no guidance for dealing with sexual abuse cases. The two led the Vatican’s 2018 investigation into sexual abuse in Chile, producing a 2,300-page report that sparked the resignation of several of the country’s top bishops.

Scicluna also conducted the Vatican’s investigation into Father Marcial Maciel, the late founder of Mexico’s Legionaries of Christ Catholic religious order. Maciel was accused of sexually abusing at least 60 boys, some as young as 12.

Allegations of pedophilia have long plagued the Church in Mexico. Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez, President of the Mexican bishops conference, said 271 Mexican priests have been accused of sexual abuse to date.

The bishops’ conference said it does not have an estimate of the number of victims. Advocates say there are many more victims than those who have come forward with accusations. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Carlos Carrillo, Paul Vieira)

Pakistani town grapples with grim history of child abuse abduction

UNTV News   •   September 24, 2019

Grief, fear and anger have enveloped the town of Chunian in Pakistan’s eastern, Punjab province after the bodies of three missing children were found in a district which has seen numerous cases of child abuse and abductions in recent years.

Police said on Monday (September 23) they had made twenty arrests as they investigated the suspected murders and sexual assault of the boys.

The body of Muhammad Faizan had been found the previous week, a day after he went missing.

Faizan, 8, had failed to return home with his brother when the two went to nearby shops to buy snacks.

His body and the remains of two more boys were later found on a deserted section of an industrial estate.

“The animal brutalized my child. I cannot bear this. I want justice,” Faizan’s mother, Amtal Salam. The family home overlooks the grave of her young son.

Local media reported three other children from the area have been missing since the middle of the year and another child had disappeared late last week after the bodies were found.

Videos of hundreds of local children being sexually assaulted were caught circulating in 2015, which a senior child protection official at the time called the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history.

Last year, the body of a 7-year-old girl was found in a garbage dumpster, which police said was the twelfth incident of a girl being abducted, raped and killed in the district in a year, and sparked violent protests. A man was convicted of the murder and was executed.

Hundreds more protested last week, blocking off streets and damaging shops.

Families in the area are fearful of the welfare and safety of their children.

“Now the children are afraid to go to the mosques, they are afraid to go to school. Announcements have been made that parents should escort their children to school,” said Shehnaz Bibi, a housewife from a neighboring village.

Police are continuing to investigate the suspected murders and disappearances and are also looking into the possibility of a serial killer. (REUTERS)

(Production: Naeem Abbas, Salahuddin, Sheree Sardar, Masako Iijima)

Ex-Vatican treasurer Pell heads back to prison after losing appeal

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell leaving court and getting into vehicle| Courtesy: Reuters

Former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell returned to prison on Wednesday (August 21) after losing his appeal against his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys.

Pell will remain in prison for at least another three years, a court ruled.

Pell, the highest ranking Catholic worldwide to be convicted of child sex offenses, was sentenced in March to six years in jail after being found guilty on five charges of abusing the two boys at St. Patrick’s Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the late 1990s.

Pell appealed his conviction to Victoria’s Court of Appeal on three grounds, but mainly on the argument that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable based on the evidence at the trial.

Pell had also appealed on the grounds that the trial judge was wrong to have blocked the defense from showing a video animation to back up its closing argument and that Pell should have entered his plea while in front of potential jurors rather than by a video link in the court house.

The three appeal judges decided to only grant leave to hear the first ground of appeal, that the jury verdict was unreasonable, and that was then dismissed on a 2-1 verdict.

Under the terms of his sentencing, Pell will be eligible for parole in October 2022, when he will be 81. (Reuters)

(Production: Jill Gralow)

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