The US Catholic Church’s annual report on sex abuse in that institution says there were nearly two clergy sex abuse cases every day during 2017, totally 674 incidents including 24 against children.
The Catholic Church’s latest report on the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”—which came into existence when sexual deviancy among Catholic priests was first acknowledged as a major issue in the controlled media nearly two decades ago—said there had been a “decrease in allegations of clergy sex abuse from the two previous years but also indicates the need for continued vigilance since charges were raised by more than 650 adults and 24 minors.”
“The overall decrease in allegations coupled with the fact that charges of abuse are still being made is something Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, which oversees the audits, finds troubling,” the Church said in an official announcement.
In introductory remarks to the report released June 1, he said: “While progress continues to be made, there are worrisome signs for the future revealed in this year’s audit that cannot be ignored.”
He said he was most concerned by signs of general complacency such as a shortage of resources available to fully implement programs, failure by some dioceses to complete background checks in a timely manner and, in some cases, poor record keeping.
Cesareo wrote that this “apparent complacency” could indicate that some in the church think “sexual abuse of minors by the clergy is now an historic event of the past.”
This view would be untrue, as the current report indicates, he said, adding: “Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must re-dedicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance that will not permit complacency to set in or result in a less precise and thorough implementation of the charter.”
The newly released report — based on audits conducted between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017 – shows that 654 adults came forward with 695 allegations.
Compared to 2015 and 2016, the number of allegations decreased significantly due to fewer bankruptcy proceedings and statute of limitations changes.
The report also notes that 1,702 victim/survivors received ongoing support and that all dioceses and eparchies that received an allegation of sexual abuse during the 2017 audit year reported them to the appropriate civil authorities.
According to the charter, 24 new allegations were raised by came from minors. As of June 30, 2017, six were substantiated and the clergy were removed from ministry.
These allegations came from three different dioceses and four of the six allegations were against the same priest. Eight allegations were unsubstantiated as of June 30, 2017. Three were categorized as “unable to be proven” and five investigations were still ongoing at the time of the audit.
According to the 2017 report, dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes reported $263,809,273 in total costs related to child protection efforts as well as costs related to allegations that from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, which represents a 50 percent increase from the amount reported the previous year.
Last year’s report revealed that 1,232 adults come forward to report sexual abuse they suffered as children, with a total of 1,318 allegations—a total of around four per day.
“Close to 250 newly identified victims/survivors and members of their families were offered outreach and healing, and ongoing support was provided to 1,510 victim/survivors and their families who reported abuse in prior audit periods,” the 2016 report said.
- It is not only the US where this is an issue. Most recently, Pope Francis nominated a special administrator to the Australian archdiocese of Adelaide after its head was found guilty last month of concealing child sex abuse by a priest. Philip Wilson, the archbishop of Adelaide and a former president of the Roman Catholic Church’s top body in Australia, was accused of covering up a serious indictable offence by another priest, James Fletcher, after being told about it in 1976. Wilson is expected to be sentenced by an Australian court in June. He faces a maximum penalty of two years in jail.