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(NEW YORK POST) – Critics slammed the Vatican for refusing to respond to a bombshell grand jury report detailing how hundreds of priests sexually abused children for decades — all while being shielded by church officials.
“We have no comment at this time,” Paloma Ovejero, deputy director of the Vatican’s press office, tersely told CNN on Wednesday.
But in the United States, pressure mounted for Pope Francis to address the report, which found that over 1,000 children were abused in Pennsylvania over the past 70 years.
“The silence from the Vatican is disturbing,” said Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
Matthew Schmitz, an editor at First Things, a conservative Catholic magazine, added: “Francis has been unfairly attacked at times for his response to clergy sexual abuse. But his response has been disappointing. I hope that enough pressure can be created that he does act to investigate these issues.”
The report, released Tuesday, not only detailed horrific stories of abuse — but unveiled a systematic coverup by church leaders, “like a playbook for concealing the truth.”
“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,” the report says.
In some cases, church leaders alerted the Vatican about allegations against priests in their dioceses — as well as their decisions to let them to stay on in their roles. In other cases, they requested that the “predator priests” be laicized — but it took years for the Vatican to act and remove offenders from the priesthood, the report found.
“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,” the grand jury said. “For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”
Although the Vatican declined to comment, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty, chair of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, issued a statement:
“The report of the Pennsylvania grand jury again illustrates the pain of those who have been victims of the crime of sexual abuse by individual members of our clergy, and by those who shielded abusers and so facilitated an evil that continued for years or even decades,” they said.
“As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.”