The Vatican has released its first statement following a Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused 301 priests of abusing thousands of children while church officials covered up their alleged crimes. The Vatican said that "the abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible calling them "betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith."
The statement said that "the Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur."
The Vatican told the survivors "that the Pope is on their side."
"The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the Church and in all of society," the statement continued.
The Vatican pointed out that there were "almost no cases after 2002" and that the reforms instituted by the Catholic Church have "drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse."
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