Pennsylvania’s attorney general has appealed directly to Pope Francis asking him to intervene to allow the publication of a grand jury report into clerical abuse taking place in six of the state’s Catholic dioceses.
The judge who supervised the grand jury ordered the report’s release over a month ago, but the Supreme Court on June 20 stopped the publication, citing challenges to the release by “many individuals” named in the document.
“Yesterday, I wrote to Pope Francis regarding the Office of Attorney General’s comprehensive investigation into sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church and its cover up by church leaders,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement on Thursday.
Shapiro was one of the dignitaries to meet the pontiff at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, during Francis’s 2015 visit to the United States.
In his letter, Shapiro noted it was shortly after his meeting with the pope that Francis greeted survivors of clerical sex abuse.
“You pledged to ‘follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.’ I was moved by your words, your compassion and your commitment,” Shapiro wrote.
“Credible reports indicate that at least two leaders of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania — while not directly challenging the release of this report in court — are behind these efforts to silence the victims and avoid accountability,” Shapiro continued.
“Your Holiness, I respectfully request that you direct church leaders to follow the path you charted at the seminary in 2015 and abandon their destructive efforts to silence the survivors.”
Attorney Justin Danilewitz, whose firm represents some of those former and current clergy named in the grand jury report, called the attorney general’s letter “stunning and highly unusual,” adding it is a thinly veiled accusation without proof.