In PA, Priests Used Golden Crosses To Mark Kids As Abuse Targets

Cardinal Donald Wuerl was the bishop of PIttsburgh when he presided over the funeral of the Rev. George Zirwas, one of the priests of participating in a "ring of predatory priests," according to a state grand jury report. Wuerl said Zirwas was "a kind man." (The Morning Call)Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston/CC BY-ND 2.0/Flickr

The priests gave their victims gold crosses to wear as a sign to other priests that the boys were desensitized to abuse.

Pennsylvania’s two-year investigation into sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic church revealed myriad disturbing details of abuse by hundreds of priests going back several decades.

Among the more horrific examples was a “ring of predatory priests” in Pittsburgh who shared victims among themselves, produced child pornography within rectories and parishes, and marked their victims as potential targets for other clergy by giving them gold crosses to wear.

From USA Today:

> During the course of the grand jury investigation, it uncovered a 'ring of predatory priests' within the Diocese of Pittsburgh who "shared intelligence" regarding victims, exchanged the victims amongs themselves and manufactured child pornography. The group included George Zirwas, Francis Pucci, Robert Wolk and Richard Zula, and they used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims.


> One victim, who is identified as "George," was made to get up on a bed. As the priests watched, they asked George to remove his shirt. Drawing on the image of Christ on the cross, they asked George to remove his pants. The priests began taking Polaroid pictures of him.

George told the grand jury that his photo was added to a collection of similar pictures of other teenage boys.

The priests also had a group of favorite boys, George said, and they would take those boys on trips and give them gifts.

> In the report, the grand jury said, the crosses "were a designation that these children were victims of sexual abuse. They were a signal to other predators that the children had been desensitized to sexual abuse and were optimal targets for further victimization."

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