Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro told multiple news outlets Tuesday that there’s evidence that the Vatican knew about the cover-up of the sex abuse of children by Catholic priests in his state.
Shapiro said Pennsylvania bishops shared the secret archives they’d recorded containing details of the sex abuse cases with the Vatican. It was those archives that helped form the basis of the damning report his office presented on August 14, alleging the sexual abuse of potentially over 1,000 children by approximately 300 priests over decades and a cover-up of that abuse among the state’s Catholic hierarchy.
“Though Catholic Bishops in Pennsylvania systematically denied the sexual abuse of thousands of children over a 70-year period, they secretly documented the cases and often sent information on them to the Vatican, Shapiro told two national news shows,” Reuters reports.
“There are specific examples where when the abuse occurred, the priests would go, the bishops would go and lie to parishioners, lie to law enforcement, lie to the public, but then document all the abuse in secret archives that they would share oftentimes with the Vatican,” Shapiro told CBS “This Morning” Tuesday. “There are specific examples where the Vatican knew of this abuse and they were involved in the cover-up.”
Shapiro offered no comment on whether the current pope or his predecessors knew about the cover-up.
Reuters notes that this is not the first time Shapiro has made the allegation; he also made the claim in a press conference unveiling the bombshell report on the findings of the two-year investigation, which he described as the most comprehensive investigation of sex abuse by clergymen in American history.
Amid questions of what he knew about the cover-up and increasing calls for his resignation, Pope Francis has remained silent. He has, however, recently apologized to victims of abuse for “some members of the hierarchy [who] didn’t own up to these painful situations and kept silent.”
“We ask forgiveness for the abuse in Ireland, abuse of power and of conscience, sexual abuse” by clergy, Francis said at a mass in Dublin on August 26. “In a special way, we ask forgiveness for all the abuse committed in the different institutions run by religious men and religious women and other members of the church.”