Clergy abuse victims advocate: Pennsylvania findings 'not the first or the last'

A Catholic church in Pittsburgh

Jeff Swensen The New York Times file A Catholic church in Pittsburgh

The Vatican has expressed "shame and sorrow" over the sexual abuse of at least 1,000 children by more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania, and has said Pope Francis is "on the side" of survivors.

"When you have the priest touching you every day, you know that's a hard memory to have", said a victim named Sean Dougherty.

He wants the criminal statute of limitations eliminated altogether for any child abused under the age of 18 and to change the law to give victims a two-year "window of opportunity" to file a civil lawsuit.

"Those sentiments continue and are deepened in view of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report".

Shapiro explained, "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". He's the third cardinal to be disgraced by sex abuse scandals in the last several months, including Cardinal George Pell, one of the Vatican's highest officials, ordered to stand trial in Australia on several charges of sexual abuse.

"Among other explosive findings", as Breitbart noted in a piece about the developments, "the report [from the grand jury on Tuesday] faulted Cardinal Donald Wuerl, a former longtime bishop of Pittsburgh who now leads the Washington archdiocese, for what it said was his role in the concealment of clergy sexual abuse".

Wuerl has disputed the allegations.

The pressure is growing as voices of the victims of child sex abuse in the Catholic church grow louder, such as voices like Nanette Kirsh, who was abused at Mercyhurst Catholic Prep School in Erie, Pennsylvania in the early 1980s.

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Shockingly, only two were charged as a result of the grand jury investigation. Due to continuing legal battles, more than a dozen names and related information remain redacted.

Over 100 of the pedophile priests have sine died, with many others having retired, been dismissed or put on leave from the priesthood.

In 2013, a diocese's settlement with 11 men who accused a Franciscan friar of sexually abusing them at a Catholic high school in northeast OH more than two decades earlier stoked complaints that the friar had abused boys at a Pennsylvania school in the late 1990s.

The office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has received more than 150 calls on its hotline.

Dioceses in Boston; Los Angeles; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Denver; San Diego; Louisville, Kentucky; and Dallas have all paid multimillion-dollar settlements to victims.

Before this investigation, there had been nine investigative reports by a prosecutor or grand jury on a Catholic diocese or archdiocese in the US, according to the Massachusetts-based research and advocacy organization

He also said that right now, it is clear that "one root cause" of this catastrophe "is the failure of episcopal leadership".

The dioceses of Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown have been the subject of previous grand jury investigations that also found abuse. "As in all cases, while these matters are under review, Bishop Timlin is not authorized to represent the Diocese of Scranton in any public events, liturgical or otherwise". Only 40 of nearly 200 dioceses in the country have publicly released lists of priests who were accused of abuse.

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