Child Sexual Abuse Injury Lawyers
Cases of child sexual abuse
by Catholic priests
and members of religious orders
in the 20th and 21st centuries has been widespread and has led to many allegations, investigations, trials and convictions, as well as revelations about decades of attempts by the Church to cover up reported incidents.
The abused include boys and girls, some as young as 3 years old, with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14.
The accusations began to receive isolated, sporadic publicity from the late 1980s. Many of these involved cases in which a figure was accused of decades of abuse; such allegations were frequently made by adults or older youths years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy
who covered up sex abuse allegations and moved abusive priests to other parishes
, where abuse continued.
By the 1990s, the cases began to receive significant media and public attention in some countries
, especially in Canada
, the United States
and, through a series of television documentaries such as Suffer The Children
A critical investigation by The Boston Globe
in 2002 led to widespread media coverage of the issue in the United States, later dramatized in Tom McCarthy
‘s film Spotlight
. Over the last decade, widespread abuse has been exposed in Europe,
Australia, Chile, and the USA.
From 2001 to 2010 the Holy See
, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, considered sex abuse allegations involving about 3,000 priests dating back fifty years,
reflecting worldwide patterns of long-term abuse as well as the Church hierarchy’s pattern of regularly covering up reports of abuse.
Diocesan officials and academics knowledgeable about the Roman Catholic Church
say that sexual abuse by clergy is generally not discussed, and thus is difficult to measure.
Members of the Church’s hierarchy have argued that media coverage was excessive and disproportionate, and that such abuse also takes place in other religions
and institutions, a stance that dismayed critics who saw it as a device to avoid resolving the abuse problem within the Church.
In a 2001 apology, John Paul II
called sexual abuse within the Church “a profound contradiction of the teaching and witness of Jesus Christ”. Benedict XVI
apologized, met with victims, and spoke of his “shame” at the evil of abuse, calling for perpetrators to be brought to justice, and denouncing mishandling by church authorities.
In 2018, Pope Francis began by accusing victims of fabricating allegations,
but by April was apologizing for his “tragic error” a
nd by August was expressing “shame and sorrow” for the tragic history,
without, however, introducing concrete measures either to prosecute abusers or to help victims.