February 20, 2005

Bishops: New claims of abuse in 2004 not a sign of present problem

Athens Banner-Herald

By Rachel Zoll
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - 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 now.

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.

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 now has climbed to at least $840 million since 1950.

Posted by kshaw at February 20, 2005 05:04 AM