Pope Francis asked the world’s Catholics to forgive the church’s failure to meaningfully root out the “culture of death” fostered by sexual predators within the clergy in a candid letter released by the Vatican Monday.
“I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons,” the Pope wrote just days after the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that detailed allegations against more than 300 priests in the state.
“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated,” he added.
The report, released Thursday, exposed the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by 301 priests in Pennsylvania churches over 70 years.
The document constituted the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States,” according to the Pennsylvania attorney general.
Grand jurors also found evidence of extensive cover-ups by Bishops and other senior officials within the church, whose methods they described as “a playbook for concealing the truth.”
The Pope responded directly to the Pennsylvania grand jury report in his Monday letter, acknowledging that the document makes clear that abuse “was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.”
The report came as the church is facing high profile abuse scandals in Chile and Australia and ahead of the Pope’s visit to Ireland, which has its own long history of clerical abuse.
WATCH NOW: ‘Pope Vows to End Cover-Ups’