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Forward 50 2018

Josh Shapiro

Fast-Rising Star in Pennsylvania Politics

This summer, Pennsylvania’s Jewish Attorney General unveiled one of the most shocking documents in the history of the international clergy abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

Standing in front of a dozen sexual abuse victims, Josh Shapiro announced the release of a 1,400-page grand jury report that claimed church leaders in Pennsylvania had covered for more than 300 Catholic priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 children.

The report was the result of an 18-month investigation led by Shapiro’s office. The details it contained were horrifying. What’s more, it alleged that church officials had systematically sought to cover up the abuse over the course of decades.

“They protected their institution at all costs,” Shapiro said at a press conference. “As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.”

Shapiro, 45, is a fast-rising star in Pennsylvania politics; once the youngest chief of staff in the U.S. Congress, later a member of the state legislature. Elected to Attorney General in 2016, he’s widely thought to have plans to run for higher office.

The grand jury report followed years of investigations all over the world into abuse by Catholic priests. But Shapiro’s report stood out, for its thoroughness, its depth, and its shocking detail. “It just was the most purposeful thing, short of giving life to our four children, I’ve ever done in my life,” Shapiro told the New York Times.

Shapiro told the Times that his Jewish background informed his work on the Catholic Church investigation. “As a person of deep faith, I was deeply offended by the weaponization of faith that we found,” he said.

The report made international headlines and pushed Shapiro onto the national stage. In the months since, he’s emerged as one of the most prominent Democratic state attorneys general filing lawsuits to oppose actions by the Trump administration.

— Josh Nathan-Kazis

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