Pope Francis expresses "shame and sorrow" over sex abuse by clergy

IN THE THOUSANDS’ The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera bishop of the Diocese of Scranton discusses the report that identifies 59 religious leaders in his diocese

Church report: 1,000 child victims in Pennsylvania

What did the report find?

According to CNN, the Vatican finally broke its silence on the Pennsylvania grand jury report on Thursday, which accuses more than 300 Catholic priests of child sexual abuse, dating all the way back to 1947.

More than 1 000 child victims were identifiable, but the "real number" was "in the thousands", the grand jury estimated.

The 18-month investigation uncovered graphic cases of abuse - and a systematic cover-up.

The grand jury report made public this week accused the cardinal of helping to protect some molester priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh. "Many, including some named in this report, have been promoted".

The Pope is yet to comment on the the almost 900-page report.

If the accusations against McCarrick are substantiated, that could confront Pope Francis with major decisions in terms of possible punishments.

After Tuesday's grand jury report release, he tweeted, "I will be supporting SB261".

Friday night, Acting State Attorney General Barbara Underwood's office told us she has directed her Criminal Division leadership to reach out to local D.A.s who are the only entities that have the power to convene a grand jury to investigate these matters.

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"We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past", DiNardo said.

Pope Francis himself has been accused of failing to get a grip on the series of scandals around the world.

Tuesday's report could help push through bills in states from California to New Hampshire that would relax the limits for criminal or civil action on sexual assaults on children, said Marci Hamilton, chief executive of the advocacy group Child USA.

What does the Catholic Church do next?

A statement late last night said that Pope Francis understands how "these crimes can shake the faith and spirit of believers". He did not say whether any of the reports detailed abuse that would fall within the statute of limitations.

Reuters reported Thursday that the bishops called for the Vatican to lead a probe backed by lay investigators. They said it would involve more church members who were not clergy but had expertise in law enforcement or psychology. The archbishop is possibly the first cardinal to resign since French theologian Louis Billot, who, according to USA newspaper National Catholic Reporter, left over a disagreement with Pope Pius XI in 1927.

The bishops also propose improving confidential channels for reporting complaints, and better procedures to resolve abuse cases.

Among its many revelations, the report exposed the way some used Pennsylvania's statute of limitations on reporting child sex abuse to their advantage. There are calls for an overhaul of rules which dictate that only the Pope can remove or punish bishops - even though there are over 5,000 of them worldwide.

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