Hawaii clergyman among 300 'predator priests' who abused kids

Pa. report on clergy sexual abuse is critical of Cardinal Wuerl

Pennsylvania officials have released a landmark grand jury report that identifies more than 300 "predator priests" who molested children in six dioceses.

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.

"This report represents a very dark period for the Catholic Church when members of the clergy sexually abused children, including here in Hawaii".

"Several diocesan administrators, including the bishops, often dissuaded victims from reporting abuse to police, pressured law enforcement to terminate or avoid an investigation or conducted their own deficient, biased investigation without reporting crimes against children to the proper authorities", says the report.

First, the grand jury pushed state legislators "to stop shielding child sexual predators behind the criminal statute of limitations", saying a recent amendment that permits victims to come forward until age 50 is "still not good enough".

In a similar case, a 1989 psychiatric evaluation concluded that Thomas O'Donnell did not have a problem, even though parents had complained that the priest made children strip naked to get weighed at a school gym, made a child sleep with him while on a trip and talked about sex with a child. The report emerged from one of the nation's most exhaustive investigations of clergy sexual abuse. Rev. John Sweeney (pictured right in July 2017) after admitting forcing a boy to perform oral sex on him in 1992. One was eight and the other was 15 when he allegedly began abusing them. But charges have been filed against two priests, one in Erie Diocese and another in Greensburg Diocese, who have been accused of abusing minors.

Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography.

Some of the dioceses involved said they would release the names of those facing "credible allegations" in the report when the document was made public and some of them did so immediately.

But recent abuse-related scandals, including in Australia and Chile, have reopened questions about accountability and whether church officials at the highest levels are still covering up crimes. And all the while, shockingly, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up.

The assaults are said to have ranged from groping to rape, with most, but not all of the victims, boys.

The report is the latest inquiry into allegations of sex abuse by Catholic clergy worldwide.

'It was none of those things.

"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 grand jury said: "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all". While the almost two-year probe has yielded charges against two clergymen - including a priest who has since pleaded guilty, and another who allegedly forced his accuser to say confession after each sex assault - the vast majority of priests already identified as perpetrators are either dead or are likely to avoid arrest because their alleged crimes are too old to prosecute under state law.

Wuerl said he expects the grand jury's findings from the 70 years it explored will be "profoundly disturbing and will open wounds among the faithful that many of us thought to be healing". Pope Francis last month stripped 88-year-old Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of his title amid allegations that McCarrick had for years sexually abused boys and committed sexual misconduct with adult seminarians.

The grand jury's report follows the resignation last month of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a towering figure in the US church and a former archbishop of Washington who was accused of sexually abusing children and adults for decades.

He says in a statement Tuesday that he "acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse".

The report criticised the cardinal for continuing to provide health insurance and sustenance payments to defrocked priests, as required by Canon Law. "It was child sexual abuse, including rape", Mr Shapiro said.

Some current and former clergy named in the report went to court to prevent its release, arguing it violated their constitutional rights.

The majority of the named priests are dead.

The high court says it'll consider their claims in September, but in the meantime ordered the report released with the identities of those clergy members concealed.

Shapiro said his office is not satisfied with the release of the redacted report, KDKA reported.

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