In response the report, Burke said, "there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these awful crimes: shame and sorrow".
The Vatican on Thursday lamented the sexual abuse within the Catholic Church uncovered in a Pennsylvania investigation, calling it "criminally and morally reprehensible", The Associated Press reported.
The grand jury recommended four actions be taken in response to the report: eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children; create a "civil window" so older victims may now sue for damages; clarify penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse; and specify that Civil Confidentiality Agreements do not cover communications with law enforcement.
The Washington Archdiocese, home to more than 630,000 Catholics, is considered an important power center for the church in the United States, and Wuerl has been ranked by commentators as one of the most influential of the 10 active American cardinals.
Pope Francis has been very clear there will be zero tolerance of sexual abuse by the clergy and cover-ups by the church hierarchy. He reportedly is the first cardinal to step down from the College of Cardinals due to sexual abuse allegations.
Mr Burke's statement came hours after U.S. bishops called for a Vatican-led probe backed by lay investigators into allegations of sexual abuse by former Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last month.
Survivor James Faluszczuk, who was abused by a priest in the Erie diocese, center, speaks with media after the press conference, August 14, 2018, in Harrisburg, Penn. "The time for any institution - university, government, news and entertainment, or the church - to protect their interest over sexual abuse victims is over", he says.
"By finding nearly no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury's conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse", Burke said.
He said Catholics need to help victims and he asked for Mary's intervention for those whose confidence is shaken because of the "terrible plague" of abuse.
Former Beaver County District Attorney Robert Masters told a grand jury investigating clergy abuse that he wrote a letter to the then-bishop of Pittsburgh in 1964 saying he was halting an investigation to "prevent unfavorable publicity.
There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church", the document says.
There's a message for the victims of abuse: "the Pope is on their side" and "the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror", the statement adds. Giella retired voluntarily in 1988 and continued to molest girls into the 1990s, a common pattern in so many cases, according to the report.
Church elders were instead promoted and predator priests allowed to remain in ministries for 10, 20, even 40 years after leaders learned of their crimes as the list of victims got longer and longer, Pennsylvania's Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. Just recently, five bishops resigned in Chile in a sexual abuse scandal there.
The appalling abuse was revealed in a new dossier of Catholic child sex abuse, and also details how another boy was made to give a confession to a priest who had attacked him.