Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, at podium, speaking during a news conference in Harrisburg. We know that these past actions have caused pain and mistrust for many people. In almost all the cases, the statute of limitations has run out, meaning that criminal charges can not be filed.
Now we know the truth: "it happened everywhere", the members of the grand jury added.
Some clergy members say they are wrongfully accused and want to challenge the allegations.
"It was none of those things". Without that kind of incontrovertible evidence, apparently, the diocese remained unwilling to err on the side of children even in the face of multiple reports of abuse.
Wuerl, one of the highest-profile cardinals in the United States, wrote to priests in the Washington Archdiocese late Monday, defending himself ahead of the release of a roughly 900-page report that victim advocates call the largest and most exhaustive such review by any US state. Pennsylvania's two other dioceses, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, were the subjects of earlier grand jury reports, which found similarly damaging information about clergy and bishops in those dioceses. Its report echoed the findings of many earlier church investigations around the country in its description of widespread sexual abuse by clergy and church officials' concealment of it.
By contrast, some of the alleged abuse by other priests took place much more recently - as with Father Philip A. Altavilla, who was arrested in 2014 on allegations of indecent assault and related charges against a teen in the late 1990s.
Court records in a largely secret, months-long legal fight over the report indicate it identifies more than 300 "predator priests" and that grand jurors accuse church leaders of brushing aside victims to protect abusers and church institutions. A boy, 9, was forced to perform a sex act and then had his mouth washed out with holy water.
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In order to prevent the Catholic Church from suffering bad publicity or financial liability, the panel claimed that a series of bishops and other diocesan leaders attempted to hide the alleged abuse.
Shapiro said the investigation confirmed a "systematic cover-up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican".
The bishop of Erie's diocese wrote in a two-page letter that was to be read during Sunday services at all 97 parishes that it was "shocking to read the graphic details of exactly what occurred".
The conspiracy of silence extended beyond church grounds.
Bishop Lawrence Persico met with Shapiro in May to discuss his testimony before the grand jury, the grand jury report and the Diocese of Erie's efforts to implement its revised policy for the protection of children.
Sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Roman Catholic Church for decades, not just in the USA but throughout the world. As recently as last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of prominent Vatican official Cardinal Theodore McCarrick amid claims of sexual abuse nearly 40 years ago.
Wuerl has come under harsh criticism over his response to the McCarrick scandal, with some commentators questioning his claims of surprise and ignorance over allegations that McCarrick molested and harassed young seminarians.
Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington, resigned in disgrace as a cardinal last month after accusations that he abused a 16-year-old boy decades ago resurfaced.
The investigation of six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses- Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton - is the most extensive investigation of Catholic clergy abuse by any state, according to victim advocates.
The bishops say they are "profoundly saddened each time we hear about the harm caused as a result of abuse, at the hands of a clergyman of any rank", while also promising "to offer avenues to healing for those who have been abused" as well as working resolutely "so that such abuse can not happen".