February 19, 2005

Bishops: Abuse Claims Mostly Old Cases

Wired News

Saturday, February 19, 2005 6:19 a.m. ET
By RACHEL ZOLL AP Religion Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Roman Catholic bishops say the 1,092 new sex abuse claims against American priests and deacons last year do not signal that molesters are rampant in parishes today.

Most of the alleged abuse occurred decades ago and nearly three-quarters of the 756 accused clerics had died, been defrocked or been removed from public ministry before the claims were made in 2004, church leaders said Friday.

The figures came from a survey U.S. bishops commissioned to help restore trust in their leadership after the abuse crisis erupted in January 2002 in the Archdiocese of Boston and spread nationwide.

A companion audit found that nearly all the nation's 195 dioceses were fully complying with the child protection programs that prelates mandated nearly three years ago. Dioceses and religious orders said they spent more than $20 million on child protection last year.

Still, the financial fallout continues. Kathleen McChesney, head of the bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection, said the total payout to victims has now climbed to at least $840 million since 1950.

"The crisis of sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic Church is not over," McChesney said. "What is over is the denial that this problem exists."

Posted by kshaw at February 19, 2005 05:59 AM