>> UPDATE: Pa. Catholic Church sex abuse report names hundreds of priests, accuses leaders of cover-up: 'They hid it all'

For two years, the 23 members of the grand jury investigating Catholic dioceses heard devastating stories of sexual abuse from victims.

They heard from perpetrators. And they heard testimony and saw documents of how bishops often failed to protect children, even putting them in harm's way from known abusers.

Then in April, in one of the last sessions of their two-year term in downtown Pittsburgh, they heard from a bishop directly. And they were angry.

"When you sit there for two years listening to victims and also to abusers … that is very difficult on the jurors," Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico said Friday.

He said it was important for him to face the truth, both for the sake of the victims and the sake of the church. "There are two victims, the victims who are actually sexually abused, but there are also victims in the people of God," he said. "Everything they believed in, it makes it so difficult for them. Because if you can't trust your bishops and priests, who can you trust? And we certainly haven't lived up to that trust."

The state Supreme Court has set a Tuesday deadline for the release, in redacted form, of the grand jury's long-anticipated report. It delves into seven decades of sexual abuse and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.

The report has remained sealed pending Supreme Court challenges on behalf of about two dozen current and former clergy. The portions of the report referring to them will remain redacted until the court can hear their arguments that their depictions in it are inaccurate or unfair.

Numerous details about the investigation have appeared in court filings surrounding that battle in the last few months, as well as from public statements by witnesses and Catholic officials. But for a report that is under seal, a lot is actually known about it.

Various estimates put the page count 800 to more than 1,000.

It covers a vast sweep in time — seven decades — and space, with six dioceses spanning the width of Pennsylvania. (The dioceses in  Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown underwent similar scrutiny in the past and were not included in the grand jury's inquiry.)

It is known that the report, overseen by the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro, is hotly disputed by some depicted in it. Two dioceses, Greensburg and Harrisburg, tried to shut down the investigation last year, arguing that it belonged under local district attorneys. The dioceses now voice support for releasing the report.

Even beyond those petitioning the Supreme Court, other individuals and dioceses have had the chance to file formal written responses to the report, so some of its findings are likely to be challenged.

The report is looking not just into how bishops handled or mishandled cases of abusive priests, but whether they were aided by community and political leaders in alleged obstruction of justice.

The report will list more than 300 names it describes as "predator priests," according to the Supreme Court.

Many have become known over the years, but the public will see many new names. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh alone, one lawyer's filing strongly suggests more than 90 "offenders" will be listed, about twice previous estimates.

As for the bishops, the report is blistering.

The report will say victims' pleas for help "were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all."

"The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid 'scandal,'" the report says, according to a document that the attorney general's office has stipulated to. ". … 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."

It continues: "Priests were regularly placed in ministry after the diocese was on notice that a complaint of child sexual abuse had been made."

And: "Several diocesan administrators, including the bishops, often dissuaded victims from reporting abuse to police, pressured law enforcement to terminate or avoid an investigation, or conducted their own deficient, biased investigation without reporting crimes against children to the proper authorities."

The report will put names, dates and other specifics to those generalizations.

The bishops of the six dioceses were given options that included testifying or filing a written statement. Like the five others, Persico initially filed a statement. But when invited again, he decided to go in person. He said Senior Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye, who led the investigation, told him: "I have to warn you this is a hostile grand jury."

But the bishop chose to take questions directly from the jurors.

"I wanted to hear what they had to say and also just to try to engage in dialogue with them," said Persico, who was a priest and administrator in the Diocese of Greensburg before being named bishop of Erie in 2012.

When the diocese provided its documents to investigators early in the process, Persico also had a law firm review the diocese's files, particularly older cases from years ago that were left as inconclusive.

That prompted the diocese in April to become the first of the six under investigation to post a list of those accused of abusing or failing to protect children.

If those credibly accused had left the diocese, there is "really no way to monitor them," Persico said. But "if you put the abuser's name to the public, that alerts the community," and can help prevent such a person from gaining another position of trust.

The list, now at 62 names, had an unexpected side effect.

"Many victims called just to say, 'Thank you for releasing my perpetrator's name. It gives me a sense of validation,'" he said.

He put one of his own predecessors on the list, the late Bishop Alfred M. Watson, who led the diocese from 1969 to 1982.

"None of that is easy," Persico said. "But the point was he received credible allegation of a case of abuse. The person who reported it to him happened to be a priest. He told the priest basically to go home and mind your own business. Not long after that, he transferred the perpetrator [to another school] and he continued to abuse. So to me it was very clear he would go on the list."