The Catholic Church has a storied past with sexual abuse. Today, many people associate the Church with sex abuse due to infamous examples of abuse and the Church’s poor response. Read on to find out more about the history of Catholic Church sex abuse and if sexual abuse is still happening in Catholic churches.
History of Catholic Church Sex Abuse
The Catholic Church has been facing sexual abuse allegations for decades. The first legal settlement for clergy abuse was in 1986, but other claims go all the way back to the 1960s. The Boston Globe first broke the story of widespread sexual abuse in the Church in 2002. This exposed the deeply entrenched problems of abuse in the Church.
Prior to 2002, it is believed that the Church mainly attempted to silence victims and sweep their accusations under the rug. Since the story from The Globe, local dioceses of the Catholic Church have released the names of 5,100 clergy members that are possible sexual abusers. Many of these men are living out their lives like normal people today.
Besides releasing these names, the Catholic Church has taken other steps to address abuse in the church. These steps include:
- Adopting a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse starting in 2002.
- Reconciliation events for victims, like Healing Masses and retreats.
- Some dioceses across the US have begun training staff on recognizing the signs of sexual abuse.
- Releasing a manual meant to guide people through dealing with sexual abuse cases in their church.
Is Sex Abuse Still Happening In Catholic Churches?
Sex abuse in Catholic churches is most definitely an ongoing problem. Cases continue to be brought against the Church for abuse by clergy across the world. Most recently, a study into sex abuse in the Catholic Church of France showed that over 200,000 children had been abused by clergy since the 1950s.
What Percentage of Priests Have Been Accused?
Thousands of cases have been brought against clergy members of the Catholic Church. Inquiries that have looked into the number of priests accused estimate that between 4-5% of priests have been accused of sexual abuse, which is over 100,000 priests. Some estimate that this number is closer to 9% once all cases have been looked through.
Most Recent Church Sex Abuse Cases
Even after The Boston Globe story, sex abuse cases against the Church continue to be filed. These are some of the most recent church sex abuse cases:
- The Vatican released a report in November 2020 that detailed years of ongoing sexual abuse by the archbishop of Washington DC, Theodore McCarrick — a once outspoken “opponent” of sexual abuse in the Church.
- After it was reported that hundreds of thousands of children were abused by clergy members in France, the Roman Catholic Church in France is selling some of its assets in order to compensate victims of sexual abuse.
- In Oakland County, Michigan, a former priest plead guilty to two counts of criminal sexual conduct. Each count comes from allegations of abuse in the 1970s involving three different victims who were between the ages of 13 and 15 at the time of the abuse.
Get A Free Case Review
The Massey Law Firm is committed to helping our clients reclaim their lives and seek the justice they deserve. If you or someone you love is a victim of clergy sex abuse, call our office today at 602-955-0055 and a member of our team will give you a free case review. While we can’t always ease the emotional burden of an experience, we work as hard as we can to get you the proper justice and financial compensation.