On Thursday, the Vatican weighed in on accusations that Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania have sexually abused one thousand people over the past seventy years. The institution stated that it felt “shame and sorrow” for the actions of its representatives. The Vatican also stated that both the offending priests and those who supported them will be held accountable for their actions.

A U.S. grand jury made the accusations of sexual abuse public. The Vatican did not immediately respond to the grand jury’s report. However, one of the Vatican’s spokespeople recently stated that they will comply with lawful procedures and provide a complete account of the abuse against minors. Pope Francis also reportedly recognized how this scandal may be damaging to some of his followers’ faith.

The grand jury’s investigation was its largest yet on the subject of sex abuse by the U.S. Catholic Church. The investigation revealed that 301 priests have been accused of abuse over the last seven decades, reaching a disgusting average of about three people being sexually abused by each accused priest.

A spokesperson of the Vatican stated:

The 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 Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is currently working to develop a new way of reporting abuse when it occurs. The Conference intends to implement a system which would exclude bishops who oversee priests facing sexual abuse accusations.

Earlier this year, the Vatican responded to accusations of sexual abuse by priests in Latin America. Pope Francis’ approach angered many at first, as he called into question some of the victims’ narratives. Eventually, however, the Vatican presented a formal apology.

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