Lawyers Criticize Prosecutor’s Appeal to Pope in Abuse Probe

Associated Press via U.S. News and World Report

July 26, 2018

By Claudia Lauer

Attorneys representing some of the petitioners arguing against releasing a Pennsylvania grand jury report on alleged child sexual abuse in the Catholic church say the state attorney general’s plea to Pope Francis is “stunning and highly unusual.”

Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor claimed in a letter to Pope Francis that at least two leaders of the Catholic Church are trying to block the release of a grand jury report alleging child sexual abuse in six of the state’s dioceses before asking him to intervene.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro sent a letter to Pope Francis on Wednesday saying anonymous petitioners had filed court actions to stop the release of the report that details the abuse and cover-ups by church officials. He urged the Roman Catholic Church’s top official to reach out to Pennsylvania’s Catholic leaders and urge them to withdraw their objections.

Shapiro wrote that he appreciated the pope meeting with survivors of sexual abuse when he visited the Philadelphia area in September 2015, and the remorse he expressed.

“Sadly, some of the clergy leading the church in Pennsylvania have failed to heed your words,” he 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.”

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