A top clergyman faulted in a Pennsylvania grand jury report over his handling of sexually abusive priests is asking parishioners not to lose confidence in the church.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, one of the highest-profile Roman Catholic cardinals in the United States, spoke Wednesday during Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C. on the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary.
He said Catholics need to help victims and he asked for Mary's intervention for those whose confidence is shaken because of the "terrible plague" of abuse.
The report says Wuerl, as Pittsburgh's bishop, approved transfers for priests who sexually abused children instead of removing and concealed information when priests were reported to law enforcement.
Wuerl made no mention of the allegations, but has previously said he acted diligently to protect children.
A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while he was visiting her in the hospital after she'd had her tonsils removed. Another priest forced a 9-year-old boy into having oral sex, then rinsed out the boy's mouth with holy water.
A sweeping state grand jury report released Tuesday says those children are among the victims of roughly 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania who molested more than 1,000 children, and possibly many more, since the 1940s.
The report accuses senior church officials, including a man who is now the archbishop of Washington, D.C., of systematically covering up complaints.
The grand jury notes that dioceses have established internal processes and seem to refer complaints to law enforcement more promptly, but says individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability.
(This is an ongoing story and will be updated regularly.)