August 16, 2018
After two days of silence, the Vatican responded Thursday to the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing sexual abuses by more than 300 priests across the state.
According to CNN, the director of the Vatican’s Press Office, Greg Burke, said there are “two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow.
“The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible,” Burke continued. “The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”
Victims should know Pope Francis is on their side, said Burke, calling them the pontiff's priority.
Burke emphasized the fact that most of the report’s accusations occurred before 2002, when a summit with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Rome led to new policies on how to deal with child sexual abuse allegations against priests.
“By finding almost no cases after 2002,” Burke said, “the Grand Jury’s conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse.”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput released a statement Tuesday calling the report “painful to read” and reminding the city of the archdiocese’s “zero tolerance policy” for employees or volunteers who engage in the abuse of children. "The Church has learned much from her past mistakes and continues to work hard to correct them," he wrote.