The number of abuse claims against Catholic clergy have dropped for the second consecutive year, says a new report on the efforts of the Catholic Church in the United States to protect children from sexual abuse.
Clergy sex abuse data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, on compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was released by the U.S. bishops April 11. More than 99 percent of the 195 dioceses/eparchies in the United States responded to the voluntary survey.
There were 714 abuse claims in 2006, compared with 783 in 2005, and 1,092 in 2004.
“This is a sobering report,” said Bishop Gregory Aymond, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. “The decline in reported cases is good. Most allegations were for behavior which took place decades ago, but the fact that there are any recent cases at all is very disconcerting.”
“I take heart in the increased funding for child protection efforts,” he said in a statement. “This demonstrates our commitment to creating a safe environment and a faith environment in our parishes, schools and other Catholic institutions.”
The survey found that more than 70 percent of the incidents against minors that were reported in 2006 occurred between 1960 and 1984.
The report also showed:
- Allegations of sexual abuse against minors by clergy fell by nine percent from the previous year; 17 of the allegations in 2006 concerned minors.
- 60 percent of those accused in 2006 had been named previously in other abuse cases.
- About 10 percent of the allegations were unsubstantiated.
- 70 percent of offenders identified in 2006 were deceased, had already been removed from ministry, or had already left the priesthood or religious order when the allegation was reported.
- Money spent on child protection efforts by the Catholic Church increased 35 percent from the previous year.
- The total allegation-related expenditures by dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes decreased by 15 percent from the previous year. Costs related to allegations in 2006 were $399 million. In 2005, allegation-related expenses were $467 million.
The full report is available at www.usccb.org/ocyp