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Pope Condemns Clergy of Child Sex Abuse Amid US Reports of Decades-Long Felonies

© REUTERS / Max RossiPope Francis holds the Book of the Gospels as he meets Italian youth at the ancient Circo Massimo in Rome, Italy August 11, 2018
Pope Francis holds the Book of the Gospels as he meets Italian youth at the ancient Circo Massimo in Rome, Italy August 11, 2018 - Sputnik International
The pontiff has called to "acknowledge and condemn" multiple cases of sexual misconduct involving minors and the cover-up of abuse in the Catholic Church. His statement came in response to fresh reports of large-scale clerical sexual abuse of minors in Pennsylvania, a month after the resignation of a prominent Vatican figure amid a sex scandal.

Pope Francis has issued a letter to all Catholics, in which he admitted that sex abuse in the church "was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced." While claiming that most cases in America "belong to the past," he said that the church failed to recognize the scale of the damage.

"It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons," he added.

READ MORE: Pennsylvania Catholic Church Releases Names of Clergy Accused of Sexual Abuse

The letter came out after  a Pennsylvania grand jury last week accused more than 300 priests of abusing children for decades, after an investigation, largely based on secret church archives, identified more than a thousand young victims.

Last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, one of the most prominent Catholic leaders in the US, amid allegations that he sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost fifty years ago, when he was serving as a priest of the New York archdiocese.

In this Sept. 23, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis reaches out to hug Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick after the Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Pope Francis has accepted U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick's offer to resign from the College of Cardinals following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy, and ordered him to conduct a life of prayer and penance in a home to be designated by the pontiff until a church trial is held, the Vatican said Saturday - Sputnik International
Pope Francis Accepts US Cardinal’s Resignation Amid Sex Abuse Reports

The high-profile resignation comes at a time of a clerical sex scandal in Latin America. In May, all Chilean Catholic bishops resigned amid reports that the Bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, had known about and covered up the sexual abuse of minors by priest Fernando Karadima.

Rocked by the news, Chile launched a massive investigation into 158 members of the national Roman Catholic Church. The probe included reports of cover-up cases and the abuse of 266 victims, including 178 minors, with some cases dating as far back as 1960.

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