According to a yearly audit of the Catholic Church by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released on Thursday, the number of allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy members skyrocketed to 4,434 between July of 2018 and June of 2019.
Compare that to 1,451 the year prior. It’s not that that many incidents occurred in a single year; rather, notes Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post, the number reflects the “result of new church-run compensation programs for victims as well as survivors driven to come forward by several major clerical abuse scandals.”
Remember that a number of states, like New York, legislated a one-year window for victims who were previous time-limited out of the legal system to come forward with any allegations. The 4,434 number suggests that many people in those states — 37% of the total number — did indeed report their allegations of abuse.
That said, 37 of those complaints involved people who are currently minors, suggesting clerical abuse is not only a problem of the past. (Some of those complaints were unsubstantiated.)
Church officials still think that’s cause for celebration:
Church officials said the fact that there remains such a small number of claims of recent abuse shows that their reforms are working and that the jump in reporting of older claims reflects confidence complaints will be taken seriously.
“It reflects the same pattern we’ve been seeing — there hasn’t been a real uptick in cases since the Charter,” said Francesco C. Cesareo, the chairman of the National Review Board, a committee created by the Catholic Church in 2002 to oversee the implementation of the Charter. “I think the data is out there to show that the Church has been the one institution that has really taken an institutional approach to this and put in place policies and protocols that have resulted in a much safer environment within the Church.”
As for the nearly 3,000 priests and other Catholic leaders who have been accused of abuse, the report says most of them (1,593) are dead. Many others are temporarily (138) or permanently (321) removed from ministry. But 83 remain “active” in the Church, presumably because the allegations haven’t led to charges or were not found to be credible.
One other interesting tidbit: In 2019, the Church says it spent more than $280 million on child abuse settlements, other payments to victims, “support for offenders,” attorneys’ fees, and other miscellaneous costs related to those lawsuits. That’s a steep rise from even 2014, when they had to spend $106 million.
Of that $281,611,817, only $41,509,582 was covered by insurance… So now we know where that tithe money is going.
Naturally, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue is praising the Church for being close to perfect.
Of the 49,972 members of the clergy (33,628 priests and 16,344 deacons), .07% (37) had an accusation made against them for abusing a minor. However, since only .016% (8) could be substantiated, that means that 99.98% of priests did not have a substantiated accusation made against them.
In other words, clergy sexual abuse is near 0%.
There’s nothing more Catholic League than throwing a party because the number of priests whose cases of sex abuse could be proven is a number their victims could count on their fingers. (Donohue conveniently leaves out all the priests who are still being investigated.)
Forget the Bible. Anyone thinking about joining the Catholic Church should just read this report. Think twice before you dedicate your life to a criminal enterprise.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)