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Five Lessons from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report
Five Lessons from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report
How church leaders should respond as public revulsion for child-abuse scandals grows.

In 2016, the Pennsylvania Attorney General initiated confidential grand jury proceedings to investigate:

  • allegations of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with six of the eight Pennsylvania dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church,
  • failure of church officials to make mandatory reports of child abuse,
  • acts by Catholic priests endangering the welfare of children, and
  • obstruction of justice by church officials, community leaders, and public officials.

Prior to the expiration of its term, the grand jury in August submitted a 900-page report of its investigation. The introductory passages of the report state that the grand jury identified more than 300 "predator priests" by name and described their conduct in terms of "what they did—both the sex offenders and those who concealed them … shining a light on their conduct, because that is what the victims deserve." The balance of the report indicates at least 1,000 children were victims, based on church records—a number the grand jury believes more likely runs "in the thousands." The report also furnishes detailed elaborations condemning the conduct of the alleged predators and those within the church hierarchy who may have facilitated the abuses or failed to intervene.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in allowing the publication of the grand jury report, observed the grand jury found that "more than 300 people, identified by name, committed criminal and morally reprehensible conduct."

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