The Most Comprehensive Indictment Yet of Priestly Sex Abuse: the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

The Most Comprehensive Indictment Yet of Priestly Sex Abuse, PDF format

The Grand Jury and Its Findings

In August 2018 a grand jury report revealed that over three hundred priests had abused over a thousand children in just six dioceses in Pennsylvania, over a number of decades – and that senior Roman Catholic officials did what they could to cover it up.  This was the most damning, most comprehensive indictment to date of the massive scale of the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests.

The grand jury was convened by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office in 2016.  It scrutinised priestly abuse allegations in dioceses which served over half of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic population of 3.2 million.  It heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, and reviewed over half a million pages of internal documents from dioceses.  When released, the report was over 1350 pages long.  And this is how it began (emphases added):

“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this.  We know some of you have heard some of it before.  There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church.  But never on this scale.  For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away.  Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”

For millions of Roman Catholics and others, the truth is now only beginning to dawn on them that the sexual abuse of children by priests of Rome is on such a scale as almost to defy description.  It is everywhere, it is massive, and it is horrifying.  There has been nothing like this revelation in the entire history of the Papal system.  And it is rocking that system to its very foundations.

The report stated that it believed the real number of children who had been abused could be “in the thousands”, since some records were lost, and there were victims who were afraid to come forward and testify.

A Deliberate and Systematic Cover-Up

As for a deliberate, systematic cover-up by the Romish hierarchy, Pennsylvania attorney general, Josh Shapiro, said that the two-year investigation had found evidence of this by senior religious figures in Pennsylvania, and in the Vatican itself.  Bishops who knew about the vile acts of the priests under them would often simply re-assign those priests to other dioceses, and would not alert the police to what was going on.

This is not at all surprising, for many of the bishops themselves are just as guilty as the priests under them.  The report stated: “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.  For decades.  Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; men, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”

This business of shunting a guilty priest off to some other diocese, where he naturally continues with his sins, is not new.  Ex-priest Charles Chiniquy, for example, wrote about it in detail in his monumental nineteenth-century book, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome.[1] So did many others.  It has gone on for centuries.

“The cover-up was sophisticated,” Shapiro said.  “And all the while, shockingly, church leadership kept records of the abuse and cover-up.  These documents, from the dioceses’ own ‘Secret Archives,’ formed the backbone of this investigation.”[2]

Just think about this for a moment.  Not only did the abuse happen; not only did senior Romish leaders know about it; but they actually kept records of the abuse and the cover-up, yet did not act on the information they had at hand!  What kind of predators are these?  They knew, they recorded it all – and they did nothing until they were compelled to do something!