Two days after the release of the grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania's Catholic dioceses, the Vatican has responded, CNN reports. "Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow," said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican's Press Office, Thursday. "The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors." The Vatican had been under increasing pressure to address the report, particularly after Pope Francis failed to mention it during a Wednesday blessing; USA Today called his silence "deafening."
"The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible," Burke continued. "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." But he noted that in 2002, US Catholic bishops adopted new policies to ensure accusations were reported to law enforcement and those accused were removed from office, and that since the report found "almost no cases" that took place after that time, the reforms appear to have been effective. "Victims should know that the Pope is on their side," Burke said. "Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent." (Read more Vatican stories.)