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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The report will devastating, detailing 70 years of sexual abuse with as many as 90 offenders cited in the Diocese of Pittsburgh alone.

In a letter read at all masses, Bishop David Zubik called it a “sad and tragic description of events,” warning parishioners that it “may test your faith.”

“I really felt it was important, the letter, to get people ready for the report because it’s going to be tough, and at the same time, to realize the decisions that the Diocese of Pittsburgh makes today are far different than what would have been made over the course of the last 10, 20 years,” Zubik said.

Today, according to Zubik, clergy accused of a credible allegation are immediately removed form ministry and law enforcement is alerted. The Diocese of Harrisburg and Erie now go further by posting all of these names on their website, something Zubik says he’ll do after the report is made public.

“If I didn’t release the names, then people would say, ‘You’re hiding something,’ you know? And then they lose sense of trust in what the church is really trying to do,” Zubik said.

Zubik says the church has been cooperating with authorities and he says 90 percent of the allegations at the Diocese of Pittsburgh happened before 1990.

Watch Pam Surano’s report —

 

“Since the later part of the 1980s and all the way up to the present, we’ve continued to make changes to address child sexual abuse and to work towards its eradication,” he said.

He hopes the report will not cause further pain to the victims of sexual abuse.

“We want people who are victims to be able to know, we want to really help them to heal, and if there’s somebody who was abused and they haven’t reported it, we need to hear it so we can offer them assistance,” Zubik said.

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The grand jury report will be a painful reckoning for Pittsburgh and these other diocese, but the bishops hope that by laying it all out on the table, they can at last fully address this scandal and begin to move beyond it.

“I think the bishop is willing to reveal everything and get it out into the open,” said John Coppler, a parishioner.

Watch Bob Allen’s report —

 

But for the Pittsburgh Diocese, the release of the report couldn’t come at a worse time.

Since 2000, mass attendance is down by more than 40 percent, as are baptisms, first communions, confirmations and holy matrimony. And a challenging reorganization which will eventually require the closing of some churches and schools. Still, some parishioners believe that by being transparent about the sex abuse scandal — the church will survive.

“I would hope that Catholic people have the faith that they’ll get over this and move on,” Coppler said.

You can read the letter in its entirety at diopitt.org.