HARRISBURG, Pa. — In the latest scathing allegation against the Catholic church, Pennsylvania’s attorney general said the Vatican knew about a cover-up involving sex abuse allegations against priests.
“I can’t specifically speak to Pope Francis,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro told NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday. But “we have evidence that the Vatican had knowledge of the cover-up.”
The accusation comes two weeks after the release of a grand jury report saying hundreds of “predator priests” had abused children in six Pennsylvania dioceses over the past seven decades.
Shapiro did not specify Tuesday what evidence he has that would suggest the Vatican knew of a cover-up.
“The only documents which are public are in the report itself, including the references to the Vatican’s knowledge,” Shapiro’s spokesman, Joe Grace, told CNN.
“All else remains sealed through the grand jury process.”
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the Vatican would need to learn more details about the evidence before commenting.
Shapiro said the grand jury’s lengthy investigation into abuse by priests also revealed a widespread cover-up.
The 23 grand jurors met for two years and “unearthed over 301 predator priests (and) more than a thousand victims — children in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro told “Today.”
“They found that there was not only widespread sexual abuse, rape of children, but they found that there was a systematic cover-up that went all the way to the Vatican.”
In the two weeks since the release of that report, Shapiro said Pennsylvania’s clergy abuse hotline has received more than 730 calls.
It’s not clear how many of those cases — if any — could still be prosecuted within the statute of limitations.
The release of the grand jury’s report has also spurred investigations into Catholic clergy in other states.