FACTBOX – Sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church

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Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:59pm IST

REUTERS – Germany’s Catholic bishops confirmed on Tuesday they had sent a damning confidential report on the disgraced retired Bishop Walter Mixa, to Pope Benedict to persuade him that the man had to be removed from his post.


Mixa resigned as bishop of the Bavarian city of Augsburg in April after being accused of slapping schoolboys decades ago and misusing diocesan funds.

Here are some details of major scandals in the Roman Catholic church:


— Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, Germany’s top Catholic bishop, apologised in March for mistakes he made in failing to report to authorities one case of suspected abuse by a priest in the Freiburg diocese nearly 20 years ago.

— Prosecutors in Freiburg said on June 2 charges of aiding and abetting sexual abuse had been filed against Zollitsch.

— A Jesuit investigation, commissioned in January, last month cited 205 allegations of sexual abuse against priests at Jesuit schools in Germany, revealing decades of systematic abuse and attempts at a cover-up by the Roman Catholic order.

— Since January, media reports have documented more than 250 cases of abuse in Catholic schools, prompting the government to set up a round table to address abuse in Germany.

— Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Mixa of Augsburg in Bavaria on May 8. Mixa became the first bishop to quit in the pope’s native Germany over church scandals.


— May 2009 – The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a five-volume report saying that priests abused children for decades in Catholic-run institutions.

— Nov 2009 – The government-commissioned Murphy report into abuse in Dublin from 1975 to 2004 said Church authorities covered up cases of child sexual abuse until the mid-1990s.

— Feb 2010 – Benedict held crisis talks with 24 Irish bishops at the Vatican. The bishops promised him they were committed to cooperating with authorities.

— March 2010 – Benedict apologised to victims of child sex abuse by Irish clergy, saying he felt “shame and remorse”. He also announced a formal Vatican investigation of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders. Irish victims accused the pope of evading the question of Vatican responsibility.

— The pope accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, accused of mishandling reports of sexual abuse in his diocese on March 24. He later accepted the resignation of two other Irish bishops.

— The Vatican on May 31 named two cardinals and three archbishops from England, the U.S. and Canada to lead its inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland that is to begin in the autumn.


— June 2002 – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to bar paedophile priests from ever again acting as clerics, but not necessarily to expel them from the priesthood.

— Feb 2004 – Independent researchers said 10,667 people accused U.S. priests of child sex abuse from 1950 to 2002. More than 17 percent of accusers had siblings who were also abused.

— July 2007 – The Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1940s, the largest compensation deal of its kind.

— March 2010 – The Vatican criticised The New York Times for its coverage of the scandals. The Vatican denied any cover-up in the abuse of 200 deaf boys by Reverend Lawrence Murphy from the 1950s to 1960s after the newspaper reported he was not defrocked despite warnings sent to the Vatican and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then the church’s top doctrinal official, now Pope Benedict.


— The Swiss bishops’ conference said on June 2 that between January and May 2010 it had received reports of 72 perpetrators abusing 104 victims, up from 14 perpetrators and 15 victims in 2009.


– A rash of reports of child sexual abuse in Austrian Catholic institutions was triggered by the resignation of the arch-abbot of Salzburg’s St Peter’s monastery in March after admitting to sexually abusing a boy 40 years ago.


– July 2008 – On a visit to Australia, Pope Benedict apologised for sex abuse by clergy. At that time there had been 107 convictions for abuse in the Australian Catholic church.


– July 2000 – London Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor acknowledged making a mistake in a previous post in the 1980s by allowing a paedophile priest to continue working. The priest was jailed in 1997 for abusing nine boys.


– Roger Vangheluwe, the bishop of Bruges, resigned on April 23 after admitting he had sexually abused a boy more than 20 years ago when in charge of the Bruges diocese.


– In March 2009 Pope Benedict ordered an inquiry into the Legionaries of Christ priestly order, whose founder was discovered to be a sexual molester. In 2006, the pope told the founder, Father Marcial Maciel, to retire to a life of “prayer and penitence”. Maciel died in 2008.

— His order acknowledged in 2009 that he had fathered at least one child with a mistress, and it formally apologised to his victims in March 2010.

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