Pope condemns 'atrocities' outlined in Pennsylvania sex abuse report
© Getty

Pope Francis in an open letter on Monday condemned the "atrocities" outlined in Pennsylvania grand jury's report about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. 

"Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient," the pope wrote. "Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated." 


"We showed no care for the little ones," he wrote, "we abandoned them." 

Though Francis released a statement about the report through a spokesperson last week, the Monday letter marks the first time the Catholic leader has addressed the issue directly. 

The 1,356-page grand jury report documents decades of abuse by more than 300 "predator priests" across Pennsylvania, as well as the enormous amount of energy and time expended by Catholic leaders who helped cover up their crimes. The report is the largest examination by a government agency of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, alleging there have been more than 1,000 victims in Pennsylvania alone since the 1940s. 

"Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims," the pope wrote. "We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away." 

Francis throughout the letter called for Catholics to come together forcefully against "all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption."

"It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable," the pope wrote. 

Multiple Catholic leaders named in the report allegedly persuaded victims to drop their allegations or ignored the claims altogether.

The report, released last week, came on the heels of Francis accepting the resignation of the former archbishop of Washington D.C., Theodore McCarrick, following accusations of sexual abuse. The pope earlier this year reauthorized a Vatican commission on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.