Bad is bad, but this is now flatly unprecedented as far as the "awful news" category goes for the Catholic Church.
We suspect that most of our readers in California and elsewhere have likely noted by now at least the material gist of events reported across the globe last week. They concern what voluminous research findings term as hundreds of "predator priests" who freely preyed upon young church victims for decades.
About seven decades in fact, which is the time period cited in what a CNN article calls a "stomach-turning, nearly 900-page grand jury" report. The findings in that seminal investigation reveal an unbridled reign of terror inflicted upon more than 1,000 trusting and defenseless children left alone with church priests from various Pennsylvania parishes.
Unlike scores of other probes that have rocked church officials in recent years, the Pennsylvania matter is flatly different in its dimensions. Reportedly, the grand jury document references in numbing detail shocking acts of repeated child sexual abuse committed by more than 300 priests over 70 years.
The Pennsylvania attorney general has called the investigation "the largest ever" conducted against the Catholic Church by a U.S. governmental body. The probe brought quick and multiple demands from critics that attorneys general in other states launch similar efforts to uncover mass wrongdoing committed by church clergy members.
The grand jury report could not have been released at a worse time for the church, which is awash with sex abuse scandals globally and seemingly uncertain regarding a response strategy.
We will delve more deeply into the Pennsylvania matter and its revelations, as well as what prominent church voices are saying in its wake, in our next blog post.