Vatican finally breaks silence on sex abuse bombshell

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Burke described the abuse in the report as "betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith".

In a statement, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke also said the Catholic Church "must learn hard lessons from its past", and that the Vatican vowed to hold abusers and enablers accountable.

"I believe that there needs to be an open recognition that we have a very grave problem of a homosexual culture in the Church", Burke said in an interview Thursday, "especially among the clergy and the hierarchy, that needs to be addressed honestly and efficaciously". Tuesday's report accused Wuerl of helping to protect some child-molesting priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

This story will be updated.

Bishops will also update their "Statement of Episcopal Commitment", a 2002 promise made by bishops to follow a procedure for reporting claims of abuse, Cupich said. One boy was forced to say confession to the priest who sexually abused him.

In recent years, the USA bishops have adopted widespread reforms, including mandatory criminal background checks for priests and lay employees, a requirement that abuse allegations be reported to law enforcement, the suspension of priests while they are being investigated, and permanent removal from ministry when accusations are substantiated.

But only 10 other local attorney generals and grand juries across the US have looked into the issue since 2002, and Pennsylvania is the only state to release reports on abuse in all of its dioceses, according to BishopAccountability.org, a MA organization that tracks clergy abuse cases.

"The abuses contained in the Pennsylvania grand jury report are, as you know, appallingly familiar", he wrote.

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Wuerl has not been charged with any wrongdoing but is named numerous times in the grand jury report, which details instances in which he allowed priests accused of misconduct to be reassigned or reinstated.

"Think of, and he says this in the report, how many people I removed?"

"I'm assuming some new piece of legislation will be introduced in Pennsylvania that embodies language that will eliminate criminal and civil statute of limitations", he said, lamenting the church will push back.

Pennsylvania's attorney general released the scathing report that revealed the results of a two-year investigation into hundreds of sexual abuse allegations.

The Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a tweet earlier this week that the hotline for clergy sex abuse has been "lit up".

- The victims of child sex abuse by priests are calling for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, to step down.

The report includes 1,000 identifiable victims, but the real number is likely much higher, considering victims are often too afraid to come forward and some church records have been destroyed or were otherwise unavailable.

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