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Pope Francis’ Letter on Sex Abuse Scandal: “These Wounds Never Go Away”

Allegations have been made against 300 priests who abused over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania.

Hailey Nagma

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The Catholic Church is in hot water, again.

Child pornography, molestation, rape, impregnation of minors, and decades of covering up the truth — the list goes on and on.

On Tuesday, August 14, a long-standing grand jury investigation into sexual abuse allegations against clergymen in Pennsylvania was released in a comprehensive report, according to NPR.

The report contains 1,356 pages depicting horrific instances in the dioceses of Scranton, Allentown, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie and Pittsburgh, linking 300 priests to the criminal activies.

NPR quoted the grand jury’s report, saying that, in the past, there were “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.”

After the grand jury reviewed half a million pages of church documents, it found valid accusations from over 1,000 victims. The jury states in the report that it believes the true number of victims to be somewhere in the thousands.

The Catholic Church has a prolonged history with sexual abuse between priests and children, with this Pennsylvania scandal being the most influential and notable collection of cases since those revealed by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team in 2001.

On Monday, August 20, nearly a week after the report was made public, the Vatican released a letter in response to the accounts of misconduct.

“…these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity,” Pope Francis wrote.

Despite the uproar in light of the published report, the New York Times reports that a change in charges or civil lawsuits regarding the abuse is unlikely due to the expiration of the statute of limitations on the cases.

Current Pennsylvania laws allow a victim of child sex abuse to file criminal charges until the age of 50 if the individual turned 18 after Aug. 27, 2002. Those who turned 18 prior to the date cannot file a criminal case. Minors can file for civil charges until their 30th birthday, regardless of the date of abuse.

 

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Hailey Nagma is a sophomore journalism major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is passionate about writing, music, movies, and The Bachelor. She hopes to one day travel as a freelance reporter and witness all of the amazing things the world has to offer.

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