Australia’s Catholic Church faces six decades of child abuse allegations
Seven percent of priests in Australia’s Catholic Church were accused of sexually abusing children over the past several decades, a lawyer said Monday as officials investigating institutional abuse across Australia revealed for the first time the extent of the crisis. Last year, Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, said the Church had made “enormous mistakes” and “catastrophic” choices by refusing to believe abused children, shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish and over-relying on counseling of priests to solve the problem. The damning statistics were released during the opening address of a hearing of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
These numbers are shocking, they are tragic and they are indefensible. … As Catholics, we hang our heads in shame.
Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, which is coordinating the Catholic Church’s response to the inquiry
The commission’s research showed 4,444 people had made allegations of abuse to Catholic authorities between 1980 and 2015. The worst-offending institutions were the orders of brothers who often run schools and homes for the most vulnerable children, with female victims age 10 ½ on average, while boys were about 11 ½, the commission’s research showed. In the United States, where the clergy abuse scandal erupted into public view, 5.6 percent of clergy were accused of molesting children between 1950 and 2015, according to reports by U.S. bishops that were analyzed by BishopAccountability.org, which tracks data on abusive priests. Similar scandals have since been discovered around the world, and tens of millions of dollars have been paid in compensation. Several senior Australian Catholics will testify over the next few weeks. The commission’s final report is due by the end of this year.