The issue of child rape and sexual assault of Roman Catholic children became a national scandal. In , the Church asserted that the scandal was a very serious problem, but at the same time, estimated that it was "probably caused by 'no more than 1 per cent' or about 5, of the around , Roman Catholic priests worldwide. The product of the study, titled the John Jay Report indicated that some 11, allegations had been made against 4, priests in the USA.
Abusive priests were sanctioned under canon law and sometimes received treatment from specialized Catholic service agencies, with relatively few of the offending priests reported to civil authorities.
For example, 6, pages of documents released in a Milwaukee court case showed a pattern of on-going abuse by a large number of priests systematically switched to different assignments while church administrators failed to inform secular law enforcement agencies. Instead of reporting the incidents to police, many dioceses directed the offending priests to seek psychological treatment and assessment. In response to these allegations, defenders of the Church's actions have suggested that in reassigning priests after treatment, bishops were acting on the best medical advice then available, a policy also followed by the US public school system when dealing with accused teachers.
Some bishops and psychiatrists have asserted that the prevailing psychology of the times suggested that people could be cured of such behavior through counseling.
In response to the failure to report abuse to the police, lawmakers have changed the law to make reporting of abuse to police compulsory. An example of this can be found in Massachusetts, USA. In November , the United States Court of Appeals in Cincinnati denied the Vatican's claim of sovereign immunity and allowed the case to proceed. The Vatican initially stated that it did not plan to appeal the ruling.
Awareness of the problem[ edit ] Some date the current sexual abuse scandal to an article published in the National Catholic Reporter in Gale and Jesuit priest James Talbot which ultimately resulted in the conviction and sentencing of each to prison. Lynn , of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, became the first senior official convicted in the United States for covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests he oversaw. Lynn was convicted of child endangerment for, as the official in charge of handling abuse complaints, reassigning known abusers to new parishes instead of keeping them away from children.
Responses to the scandal proceeded at all three levels in parallel with the higher levels becoming progressively more involved as the gravity of the problem became more apparent. Before the Boston Globe coverage of the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese , handling of sexual abuse allegations was largely left up to the discretion of individual bishops.
After the number of allegations exploded following the Globe's series of articles, U. Although the Vatican did not respond immediately to the series of articles published by the Boston Globe in , it has been reported that Vatican officials were, in fact, monitoring the situation in the U. Diocesan responses to the problem[ edit ] The response to allegations of sexual abuse in a diocese was largely left to the bishop or archbishop.
Many of the accused priests were forced to resign or were laicized. In addition, several bishops who had participated in the cover-up were also forced to resign or retire. In many instances, dioceses were forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of the settlements.
Initial response of the Vatican[ edit ] On April 30, , John Paul II issued a letter stating that "a sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue by a cleric with a minor under 18 years of age is to be considered a grave sin, or ' delictum gravius.
In addition, he asserted that the Vatican viewed American cultural attitudes toward sexuality as being somewhat hysterical as well as exhibiting a lack of understanding of the Catholic Church. No one [in the Vatican] thinks the sexual abuse of kids is unique to the States, but they do think that the reporting on it is uniquely American, fueled by anti-Catholicism and shyster lawyers hustling to tap the deep pockets of the church.
And that thinking is tied to the larger perception about American culture, which is that there is a hysteria when it comes to anything sexual, and an incomprehension of the Catholic Church.
What that means is that Vatican officials are slower to make the kinds of public statements that most American Catholics want, and when they do make them they are tentative and halfhearted. It's not that they don't feel bad for the victims, but they think the clamor for them to apologize is fed by other factors that they don't want to capitulate to.
The pope asserted that "there is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young. Allen asserted that the sexual abuse crisis illustrated that "there is a lot about the American culture and the American Church that puzzles people in the Vatican, and there is much about the Vatican that puzzles Americans and English speakers generally.
Cupich , then Bishop of Rapid City, by the U. It had run criminal checks on 1. It had trained 1. To accomplish this, the U. The time period covered by the John Jay study began in and ended in The John Jay report indicated that some 11, allegations had been made against 4, priests in the USA. However, there is a general perception that the issue has been most prominent in the United States, and then in Australia, Canada and Ireland.
According to the John Jay report, one-third of the accusations were made in the years Another third of the allegations were reported between and The most frequent context for abuse was a social event and many priests socialized with the families of victims. Abuses occurred in a variety of places with the most common being the residence of the priest.
It said that most of the abusers engaged in multiple types of abuses. According to the report, only 9 percent of the accused performed acts limited to improper touching over the victim's clothes. Slightly more than 27 percent of the allegations involved a cleric performing oral sex and 25 percent involved penile penetration or attempted penile penetration, reported the study.
The study said sexual abuse "includes contacts or interactions between a child and an adult when the child is being used as an object of sexual gratification for the adult.
Fewer than 7 percent of the priests were reported to have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse as children. Although 19 percent of the accused priests had alcohol or substance abuse problems, only 9 percent used drugs or alcohol during the alleged instances of abuse. Almost 70 percent of the abusive priests were ordained before , after attending pre-Vatican II seminaries or seminaries that had had little time to adapt to the reforms of Vatican II.
The priests who had more than 10 allegations against them accounted for 2, of the total number of allegations. The panel of experts identified the following factors contributing to the sexual abuse problem: Overemphasis on the need to avoid a scandal. Use of unqualified treatment centers. Misguided willingness to forgive.
Diocesan awareness of the problem[ edit ] In response to criticism that the Catholic hierarchy should have acted more quickly and decisively to remove priests accused of sexual misconduct, contemporary bishops have responded that the hierarchy was unaware until recent years of the danger in shuffling priests from one parish to another and in concealing the priests' problems from those they served.
The Church was widely criticized when it was discovered that some bishops knew about some of the alleged crimes committed, but reassigned the accused instead of seeking to have them permanently removed from the priesthood. According to the John Jay report, nearly 40 percent of priests alleged to have committed sexual abuse participated in treatment programs.
The more allegations a priest had, the more likely he was to participate in treatment. In , Massachusetts passed a law requiring religious officials to report the abuse of children.
Some sources argue that the negative public opinion was fueled in part by statements made to the media by various parties with differing agendas including lawyers for those suing the Church for damages resulting the alleged sexual abuse.
As the public furor over the scandal grew, some members of the Catholic Church began to see an anti-Catholic agenda behind some of these pronouncements. Criticism of media coverage by Catholics and others centered on an excessive focus being placed on Catholic incidences of abuse. Such voices argue that equal or greater levels of child sexual abuse in other religious groups or in secular contexts such as the US public school system have been either ignored or given minimal coverage by mainstream media.
Pope Benedict's apology , Response of Pope Benedict Pope Benedict XVI apologized for the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and pledged that pedophiles would not be allowed to become priests in the Catholic Church. Pontificia Commissione per la Tutela dei Minori was instituted by Pope Francis on 22 March for the safeguarding of minors. Impact on the church[ edit ] Main article: Settlements and bankruptcies in Catholic sex abuse cases According to Donald Cozzens , "by the end of the mid s, it was estimated that AIB had to be nationalized during the Irish financial crisis.
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