Vatican breaks its silence on clergy abuse report, “The pope is on your side”

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VATICAN CITY, ROME (WBRE/WYOU/NBC NEWS) – Two days after a scathing report on clergy abuse in six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses was released, the Vatican has finally responded.

In a statement released Thursday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the church felt “shame and sorrow” and told the victims “The pope is on your side.”

Pope Francis came under intense criticism for not immediately responding the the results of the 1,356 page grand Jury report which was released on Tuesday by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. It described the actions of what it called 301 “predator” priests who victimized more than 1,000 children over a period of decades.

“The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible,” the Vatican said. “Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith.”

The statement also noted the report found “almost no cases after 2002” which it said was “consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidents of clergy child abuse.”

Those reforms including a system of concealing abuse reports, and of moving clergy accused of abuse from one parish to another without notifying church attendees of the situation.

Still, the statement concludes the church must still “learn hard lessons from its past,” adding “There should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted the abuse to occur.”

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