Boston: report finds extent of abuse complaints 'staggering'

 Following the child sex abuse cover-up allegations last year which lead to the resignation of Cardinal Law as archbishop of Boston, an official investigation concluded yesterday that the church had ignored 'hundreds' of complaints over the past 60 years. The grand jury inquiry lead by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly found the archdiocese' own records reveal that they received complaints from 789 alleged victims, involving more than 250 clergy and other workers. But he said, the number of victims, spanning a period from 1940 to today, probably exceeded 1,000. Introducing the 91 page report, he said:"What we have documented in the course of this investigation borders on the unbelievable. The duration of it, six decades of the sexual abuse of children by members of the Catholic clergy. The magnitude of it is simply staggering." The attorney general said that Cardinal Bernard Law, bore ultimate responsibility for what he calls the "tragic treatment of children." But, he added the Cardinal did not bear sole responsibility, saying: "With rare exception, none of his senior managers advised him to take any of the steps that might have ended the systemic abuse of children." "The Catholic faith and the Catholic religion values and teaches to protect the most vulnerable, particularly our children. Now this is not about the Catholic faith and the Catholic religion," he said. "This is a massive, inexcusable failure of leadership in the Archdiocese of Boston." The inquiry explored whether the church hierarchy should be charged for ignoring allegations of abuse, but concluded no charges could be filed because child-protection laws in place while abuses were taking place would not allow it. Some states, including Massachusetts and New York, have now passed legislation requiring clergy to report child abuse to the state. The investigation did not uncover any evidence of recent or ongoing sexual abuse of children. The attorney general said the inquiry did not find any information that would explain the drop-off in recent complaints. Concluding, Reilly said he hoped his report would draw a clear line between the past and a more hopeful future. Around 30 protesters gathered outside the attorney general's office on Tuesday. One placard read: "They let children be raped. Their punishment: Nothing." The archdiocese now faces about 500 civil suits from alleged victims of clergy sex abuse. A church spokesman said the archdiocese remained committed to working towards out-of-court settlements.

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