The Vatican Thursday described the sexual abuse detailed in the Pennsylvania grand jury report as “criminally and morally reprehensible.” The Vatican expressed “shame and sorrow” and said the pope wants to completely eliminate “this tragic horror.”

The jury released a detailed report Tuesday about at least 1,000 children sexually abused by more than 300 Catholic priests over the last 70 years.

“The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors. There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said.

"Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur,” he added, the Guardian reported.

The 1,300-page report also gave details about how church leaders including bishops, archbishops, and cardinals went to extraordinary lengths to conceal and protect the perpetrators.

“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades,” the report said. “Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”

Burke noted that most of the cases mentioned in the report occurred before 2002 which was “consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse.”

"Victims should know that the Pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent,” Burke said.

“The Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm. The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements,” he added.

Burke said, “The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers, and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society.”

The statement came after both liberal and conservative Catholics pressed the pope to respond to the report in detail. “The silence from the Vatican is disturbing. I don’t think the pope necessarily has to say something today. He needs time to understand the situation. But someone from the Vatican should say something,” Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania told CNN.

“Still today there are so many martyrs, so many who are persecuted for the love of Christ. They are the real strength of the Church!” the pope had tweeted after the release of the report.