CHARLOTTE, N.C. — From the parish to the priest, allegations from a new grand jury report out of Pennsylvania has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.
The report details decades of sexual abuse and says priests in six dioceses molested at least 1,000 children, if not more, since the 1940s.
Coverage on Pennsylvania sexual abuse acandal:
- Catholics consider withholding donations amid scandals
- Bishops accused of brushing off sexual abuse complaints
- 'Weaponization of faith': Examples from clergy abuse report
- Vatican in 'shame and sorrow' over abuses in Pennsylvania
- Bishop: I have 'profound remorse' after sex abuse report
- Will other states follow Pennsylvania on church abuse?
The report came two months after Pope Francis ordered disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick removed from public ministry amid allegations the 88-year-old retired archbishop sexually abused a teenage altar boy and engaged in sexual misconduct with adult seminarians decades ago. Last month, Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as cardinal and ordered him to a "life of prayer and penance."
David Hains, spokesman for the Charlotte Diocese, said the report found huge problems that need to be fixed.
“It's a betrayal when the leaders are literally preaching one thing and then acting in another way,” Hains said. “It's just wrong.”
The report says more than 300 clergy committed the abuse, and for years, the church's senior leaders covered it up.
The alleged abuse wasn't confined to Pennsylvania.
One priest is accused of taking a victim on an overnight trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Another priest took two minors to Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“I don’t know a lot about the Catholic Church, but if you see these problems happen over and over again, maybe it’s time to look at how do we change things,” Charlotte resident Robbie Harvey said.
“The bishops already recognize they can’t investigate this problem themselves entirely. It wouldn't be trusted,” Hains said.
In a statement, Charlotte's bishop condemned the contents of the report, calling them shameful and calling for the church to pray.
“We're going to see a lot of change in the Catholic Church at the highest level,” Hains said.
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