Catholic Church faces fresh child abuse charges

Roman Catholic Church faces fresh charges of child abuse

What you need to know:

  • Pope Francis has approved the creation of an internal church tribunal to punish bishops who cover up sex abuse by priests, but networks of abuse survivors are sceptical that much will change.

The Roman Catholic Church faces fresh charges of child abuse, with an investigator saying Tuesday that at least 547 boys at a German choir school suffered sexual or physical abuse.

Here is a rundown of other cases that have rocked the Church in recent years.

Since 2010, hundreds of cases of sex abuse against children or adolescents in religious institutions have emerged.

The most high-profile ones involve Jesuit-run Canisius college in Berlin, and the most recent revelation of the choir in Ratisbonne, southern Germany, where at least 547 children were victims of abuse, including rapes, between 1945 and the early 1990s.

A public enquiry begun in 2013 found that 4,440 presumed cases of paedophilia had been reported to authorities at the Catholic Church in Australia. Seven percent of priests were presumed to have committed paedophilic acts, but the probe was not followed by official action.

The third highest member of the Vatican hierarchy, Australian Cardinal George Pell, was charged in June 2017 for historical sexual offences, but no details were provided.

In February 2016, Pell had testified via video-link before an Australian commission probing abuse, and admitted that the Church "mucked up" in dealing with paedophile priests in the state of Victoria.

In the late 1980s, a huge scandal broke out regarding the mistreatment of children at an orphanage in Newfoundland in the 1950s-60s.

Church officials were accused of failing to report cases of paedophilia.

United States
Between 1950 and 2013, the Catholic Church in the US received 17,000 complaints from people who said they had suffered sexual abuse from 6,400 clerics between 1950 and 1980.

In 2012, specialists in contact with the Vatican mooted the figure of 100,000 cases of child sex abuse in the US.

Faced with accusations concerning four percent of its priests, the US church has already spent several billion dollars in legal fees.

Among the senior church members forced to resign for protecting paedophile priests were Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, Roger Mahony in Los Angeles, Robert Finn in Kansas City, and John Clayton Nienstedt in Minnesota.

Accusations against Catholic institutions began to emerge early in the millenium, and covered several decades prior to that. The number of underaged victims was estimated at around 14,500. Several bishops and priests accused of committing or covering up the abuse have been punished.

In 2014 Cardinal Sean Brady stepped down with an emotional plea for forgiveness. He was accused of mishandling child abuse allegations during a probe into notorious paedophile Father Brendan Smyth, finally arrested and convicted in the 1990s.

Two scandals forced the Vatican to revoke two high-ranking ultra-conservative clerics, Viennese Archbishop Hans Hermann Groeer in 1995 and the bishop of Sankt-Poelten, Kurt Krenn in 2004.

In 2010, the bishop of Bruges, Ranger Vangheluwe, resigned after acknowledging sex abuse of two nephews. Since 2012 the Catholic Church in Belgium has received hundreds of complaints and paid almost 4.13 million euros ($4.8 million) in compensation.

The Netherlands
In late 2011, a study found that several tens of thousands of minors had been sexually abused within the Dutch Catholic Church institutions between 1945 and 2010. Some 800 suspects have been identified.

Other countries where alleged or confirmed cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have come to light include France, Mexico and Poland.

Pope Francis has approved the creation of an internal church tribunal to punish bishops who cover up sex abuse by priests, but networks of abuse survivors are sceptical that much will change.


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