.- Law enforcement found only seven credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors against Catholic clergy in the U.S. in 2010 and 2011, though more abuse victims from past decades have come forward, according to the latest report on child protection in the Catholic Church.
In response to the findings, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged continued attention to abuse prevention.
“While the report supports the conclusion of both studies done by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice – that the majority of allegations are way in the past – the Church must continue to be vigilant,” he said in the report’s preface.
“The Church must do all she can never to let abuse happen again. And we must all continue to work with full resolve toward the healing and reconciliation of the victims/survivors.”
The 2011 report on the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was authored for the National Review Board and for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by the bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.
It found 21 allegations against Catholic clergy concerning abuse of a child under 18 in 2010 or 2011. Seven allegations were considered credible, three were determined to be false, while five were determined to be “boundary violations.” Three allegations are still under investigation, while the credibility of three other allegations could not be determined.
There are over 38,000 diocesan and religious Catholic priests and over 15,000 deacons in the reporting dioceses and eparchies.
The report adds that 683 new abuse allegations come from adults who say they were abused by diocesan or religious clergy when they were minors. About 68 percent of new allegations concerned incidents from 1960 to 1984, with the most allegations concerning the years 1975 to 1979.
About 64 percent of the 406 diocesan priests and deacons identified as alleged offenders in 2011 had already been the subject of prior allegations. Seventy-five percent of the alleged abusers are deceased, removed from ministry, laicized or missing.
The report’s examination of diocesan clergy abuse victims found that 82 percent were male. About half of the alleged abuse began when the victim was aged 10 to 14. Among religious institutions, 94 percent of the victims were male.
Several suggestions for improvement came from Al J. Notzon, III, the chairman of the National Review Board overseeing the audit. In a March letter to Cardinal Dolan, he emphasized the importance of participation in safe environment training and of “good recordkeeping regarding background checks.”
Over 1.8 million volunteers in Catholic parishes and schools have undergone child protection training, as have 249,000 other church employees. Over 4.8 million Catholic children have undergone abuse protection training.
The report noted that abuse has severe spiritual and emotional costs for its victims and that the financial costs for the Catholic Church have been severe.
The dioceses and eparchies that responded to the survey and reported abuse allegation-related costs paid over $107.8 million in 2011. Total costs to dioceses and religious orders combined decreased from $150 in 2010 million to $144 million in 2011.
These figures include legal settlements, therapy for victims, support for offenders and attorneys’ fees. Since 2004, the reporting dioceses and eparchies have paid $2.1 billion in abuse-related costs.
The Dioceses of Baker, Oregon and Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as six Eastern Catholic eparchies, have refused to participate in the audits and are not compliant with the bishops’ charter.