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The grand jury's report recommends reforming the state's criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sexual abuse, explaining: "Almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted".

Mr Shapiro said that bishops reassigned priests to different parishes after they had committed their alleged crimes. "Adopt and support each of these recommended reforms to Pennsylvania law - now", Shapiro said. Based on the experience elsewhere, of course, the grand jury report should also disabuse the bishops of any thought that the scandal is truly something only historical.

The sexual-abuse accusations in Pittsburgh stretch decades, starting in 1940s to 2018.

The report says the criminal statute of limitations in the state has been changed to allow victims to come forward until age 50. American abuse survivors have pushed for years for the government to undertake a nationwide inquiry similar to that in Australia, where a royal commission spent four years examining the sexual abuse of children by a variety of religious and civic institutions, including the Catholic church. "For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted", the grand jury report said.

Most victims were boys but some girls were also abused, the grand jury said.

Few criminal cases will likely result from the investigation under current law because of the statutes of limitation.

But the grand jury said more changes are needed.

"We should emphasize that, while the list of priests is long, we don't think we got them all".

In the Diocese of Allentown, Bishop Alfred Schlert released a letter Tuesday calling the abuse "devastating and tragic for the victims and survivors, and continues to cause pain and anger to this day". One was the former bishop of the diocese of Erie, Donald W. Trautman, who later dropped his objections; he has issued a response to the grand jury report.

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The letter is to be read at every Mass in the diocese this weekend.

"This is a systemic problem within the Catholic Church", he said on "The Daily Briefing".

Worldwide, national law enforcement agencies are targeting abuse within the church. He has deep personal ties with the Catholic church in Pennsylvania having been born there and been involved in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Rozzi's review of the letter: "There's no taking responsibility or taking accountability here".

The grand jury's report follows the resignation last month of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a towering figure in the USA church and a former archbishop of Washington who was accused of sexually abusing children and adults for decades.

The civil statute of limitations in Pennsylvania now gives child sex abuse victims 12 years to sue after they turn 18.

Its impact extends well beyond the state of Pennsylvania, especially as it comes as the next awful blow to Catholics still dealing with the scandal of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the ongoing lurid crises of sexual abuse, corruption and apparent spiritual and moral rot in Chile, Honduras and elsewhere. "With the timeliness of this report and its findings, the statute of limitations bill passed by the Senate is primed for discussion in the House".

"This is standard operating procedure", said Rezendes, whose team's reporting was featured in a 2015 movie which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

"This is a two-step process, getting the truth out and fighting for justice", he said. "They've been keeping secrets and we need to stop the secrecy".