The Latest: Prosecutor says pope's letter may stop 'denials'

The Latest on the clerical sex abuse scandal (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official says he hopes the state’s Roman Catholic leaders will “cease their denials and deflections” about a grand jury report into sexual abuse of children by priests following a letter to the faithful from Pope Francis condemning the attacks and efforts to cover them up.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office ran the investigation. Shapiro says the letter the pope sent Monday “acknowledges the painful truth.”

Shapiro says church leaders should support recommendations that include expanding the state’s statute of limitations.

A redacted version of the report issued last week says more than 300 “predator priests” abused more than 1,000 children over many decades and bishops failed repeatedly to take measures to protect their flocks or punish the rapists.

The pope’s letter said church officials “showed no care for the little ones.”


2:20 p.m.

An international research group is launching a database of Irish clergy convicted or credibly accused of sexually abusing children in hopes of pressing Pope Francis to disclose the names of all priests and brothers deemed guilty by the church. says the online database unveiled Monday shows the degree to which information remains hidden in Ireland.

Co-Director Anne Barrett Doyle says “hiding the names of credibly accused child molesters puts children at risk, withholds validation from survivors, and makes it nearly impossible for Catholic laypeople to protect their families or hold church leaders accountable.”

The Massachusetts-based group seeks to compile every publicly available document and report on the child abuse crisis in the church to hold bishops accountable for bringing abusers into the church and shielding them from punishment.

Francis is due to visit Ireland this weekend.


12:35 p.m.

Pope Francis has issued a letter to Catholics around the world condemning the “crime” of priestly sexual abuse and cover-up and demanding accountability, in response to new revelations in the United States of decades of misconduct by the Catholic Church.

Francis begged forgiveness for the pain suffered by victims and said lay Catholics must be involved in any effort to root out abuse and cover-up. He blasted the self-referential clerical culture that has been blamed for the abuse crisis, with church leaders more concerned for their reputation than the safety of children.

Francis wrote: “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

The Vatican issued the letter Monday, ahead of Francis’ trip this weekend to Ireland that is expected to be dominated by the abuse crisis.

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