CT lawyer who represented abuse victims says pope must take action

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BRIDGEPORT -

A Bridgeport attorney who successfully sued the Catholic Church says Pope Francis' latest letter condemning the sex crimes of 300 priests named in a recent report won't change much if it isn't followed by action.

The pope also demanded accountability for the cover-up and asked victims to forgive their abusers.

A Pennsylvania grand jury last week revealed that more than 1,000 boys and girls were victims of sex abuse over the last 70 years.

Lawyer Douglas Mahoney, who has represented more than 100 victims who accused clergy abuse, says the pope's letter is short on specifics, but he says it's a big first step. He adds that the letter says nothing about what concrete steps the Vatican will take to actually bring abusive priests to justice.

"The statute of limitations is a real problem because if you want to do something civilly in Connecticut, to pursue some type of claim, you only have a certain amount of time to do it," Mahoney says. "So any effort the church can make to lengthen that statute of limitations or abandon the statute of limitations, I think would be a good step."

One of the victims named in the grand jury report lives in New Canaan.

Mark Fuller says he still gets emotional about the sexual abuse he endured four decades ago. He drove about eight hours to join some of the other victims Monday in Pittsburgh.

Fuller says he believes the pope's words were just lip service. He wants the pontiff to order the church to stop hiding priests accused of abuse.

"The real shame is on the people that hid them and moved them around," he says. "That shame should be there. And on the whole institution that supports...this culture."

Fuller says he's needed decades of therapy and that the church has only paid for a few of those visits.

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