During a weekend visit to Ireland, the Vatican says Pope Francis is expected to meet with victims of sexual abuse and speak out about the problem. The move is part of an effort to contain the fallout from a grand jury report, which says a succession of church leaders helped cover up abuse by some 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania -- who victimized more than 1,000 children, and possibly many more, since the 1940s.
Speaking on Connecticut Public Radio's Where We Live, Bridgeport lawyer Cindy Robinson, who has represented many victims of church sex abuse, said those revelations didn’t surprise her.
"A lot of what I read in parts of that report, unfortunately, sounded all too familiar to what we had experienced during the decades that we’ve had these cases," she said. "Interestingly, the grand jury report talks of a 'circle of secrecy' and that is the reason why these crimes have been perpetuated for so many years … it’s almost like a playbook for handling sex abuse crimes against children."
The Pennsylvania report mentions former Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell. The report notes Mansell’s involvement, while he worked in New York in the 1980s, in the transfer of a pedophile priest who had previously admitted to molesting dozens of children.
It also says a few years later, Mansell was involved in transfering a priest who impregnated a 17-year-old.
In a letter inserted into church bulletins last weekend, current Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair told parishioners the Church has made “enormous strides” in protecting minors and vulnerable adults since 2002. But he said more needs to be done to hold church leadership accountable. And that continued abuse allegations are, “abhorrent to me and to you, and a cause of renewed hurt and anger, of extreme scandal and shame for the Church.”
Information from an AP report is included in this post.