Contributing Writer Shares A Guide To The Drama In The Catholic Church

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Grace James
Contributing Writer

On Aug. 14, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court published a nearly 900-page long grand jury report detailing one of the broadest investigations into abuse within the Catholic Church ever. The report names at least 300 priests, three of whom were connected with UD, accused of child sex abuse and more than 1,000 victims. However, it is believed there are likely thousands more victims whose records have been lost or who are too afraid to make a public accusal.   

 The report was written over an 18-month probe conducted by State Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The abuse in the report happened over a period of 70 years. More than 500,000 internal dioceses’ documents were reviewed, and dozens of victims were interviewed.

The report covers six of the eight Pennsylvania dioceses. Dayton Daily News is investigating local ties to the scandal. President Eric Spina responded to this investigation in a letter on Aug. 31.

In his message, Spina revealed four Marianists were named in the Pennsylvania report. Two of them graduated from UD with bachelor’s degrees, and one worked at UD in maintenance. None had accusations against them while they were at UD.

This report followed the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick was the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. and was accused of sexually abusing young priests and minors.

On Aug. 20, Pope Francis responded to these scandals with a letter addressed “To the People of God.” He condemned the alleged misconduct and promised repentance.

“We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them,” he said.

Despite Pope Francis’s response to the abuse, he has been accused by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who was the former top Vatican diplomat in the U.S., of knowing about and covering up the abuse of Cardinal McCarrick. In the letter, Archbishop Vigano called for Pope Francis to resign.

These claims have not been substantiated, and Archbishop Vigano, a conservative, anti-gay figure in the church, has publicly disagreed with Pope Francis on multiple issues.

There have been calls for all U.S. Catholic bishops to resign, with more than 1,000 people signing a letter asking them to do so as an act of repentance.

President Donald Trump responded to the scandal in an interview with The Daily Caller, a conservative news organization.

“The numbers, the length of time, you know, going back 70 years, I think it’s having a really negative impact on the Catholic Church,” he said. “To me it’s one of the sadder stories because I respect so much the Catholic Church.”

Besides McCarrick, no church officials, including bishops named in the Pennsylvania report, have offered to resign.

Story update 9/15/18:

West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield, 75, resigned Sept. 13 around the same time Pope Francis met with U.S. cardinals to discuss the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Bransfield has been accused of sexually abusing adults, as well as a minor.

It is customary for bishops to offer their resignation once they turn 75, but the resignations usually are declined by the pope. In this case, however, Francis accepted the resignation and opened an investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct.

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