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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: August 21, 2018 03:44 PM
From: Representative Frank Burns
To: All House members
Subject: Urging the U.S. Attorney General to Investigate Sexual Abuse within the Catholic Church

In the near future, I intend to introduce a resolution urging the United States Attorney General to immediately initiate a comprehensive, nationwide investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

The recent statewide grand jury report revealed rampant sexual abuse of children in parishes in every corner of the Commonwealth. This abuse – cataloged in gut-wrenching detail – is all the more heinous because it came at the hands of so-called “men of God.” Parishioners, especially children, are taught to trust and revere priests, yet the grand jury report shows we cannot allow anyone or any institution to be above the law.

A 2004 study attempted to determine the causes and context of sexual abuse within the church on a national level. However, more than half the cost of the study was paid by the church and the results were immediately questioned. Researchers gathered data by surveying bishops – the very people accused of covering up abuse – on cases in their dioceses. And the study lacked an in-depth look at institutional dynamics, which, as we saw in our own grand jury report were at the heart of the issue.

Therefore, my resolution calls on an independent government official – the United States Attorney General – to launch a nationwide investigation. We cannot trust that attorneys general in other states will have the political will or legal wherewithal to undertake an investigation of this magnitude on their own. Federal prosecutors are best equipped to scrutinize this venerated institution that violated its members’ trust by allowing abusive behavior to go unchecked for decades.

Introduced as HR1072