Stories by Stef W. Kight

Vatican responds to priest abuse scandal with "shame and sorrow"

The pope sitting in a chair looking to the side, looking serious.
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

Two days after a report revealed allegations that more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused over 1,000 children, the Vatican released a statement condemning the priests' actions saying, "There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow," according to Fox News.

Why it matters: Pressure on the Pope to respond had been escalating since the Pennsylvania grand jury's report was released on Tuesday. The Vatican's statement said that they take the report "with great seriousness." It adds, "[t]he abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith."

The bottom line: It's too late for legal action against most predatory priests

The backs of several priests in robes looking at a painting of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Photo:Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The more than 1,000 victims of child sexual abuse by Pennsylvanian Catholic priests are unlikely to see justice carried out on their oppressors, as the revelations from a grand jury's damning report have likely surfaced too late for any legal repercussions.

The bottom line: For abuse cases in Pennsylvania, a child victim has until they are 30-years-old to sue or until 50-years-old to file criminal charges, according to the New York Times. A majority of the allegations in the report occurred decades ago and only 2 priests are facing criminal charges at this point.

Vatican expresses "shame and sorrow" over Pennsylvania coverup

Pope Francis sitting at a mic but not talking
Photo: Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty Images

Following the revelation that hundreds of Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused more than 1,000 children over decades, the Vatican did not comment for 2 days and at least one bishop has denied that there was a coverup.

Why it matters: In a detailed report, the Pennsylvania grand jury not only uncovered a series of abusive behavior by priests, many of whom have since died or left the ministry, but also ongoing efforts by those in authority to belittle and cover up these incidents.