Hundreds of thousands of adults have been trained to prevent abuse and to report it, while leaders have been put through extensive background checks, Gomez said. Dioceses have implemented strict reporting requirements, and work closely with law enforcement to report alleged abuse and to remove accused abusers from ministry, he said.
“My brother bishops and I want to apologize to all those who have endured abuse at the hands of someone in the Church and we want to express our pastoral commitment to helping every victim-survivor find healing and hope,” the archbishop said.
“From out of the failures of our past, Catholic dioceses across the country have worked hard to put in place policies and programs to protect young people and to create safe environments in our parishes, schools and other ministries.”
The report concerns the audit period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. In that time, 4,220 adults brought forward 4,434 allegations. This is a significant increase in allegations, which the report attributed in part to additional allegations received in the wake of lawsuits, compensation programs, the reviews of clergy files, and bankruptcies.
By comparison, last year's report for the 2017-2018 audit period said 1,385 adults reported 1,455 new allegations, the vast majority of which concerned historical instances of abuse. Those numbers represent a marked rise over the 2016-2017 reporting period. Last year's report attributed the escalation to the state-wide adoption of Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs by Catholic dioceses of New York State.
The latest reporting period followed the June 2018 revelations that the deeply influential ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington, had for decades sexually abused teen boys and young men, including seminarians. A Pennsylvania grand jury report released later in 2018 also examined sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
About 80% of newly reported victims of diocesan clergy were male, while 20% were female. The report said 59% of alleged abuse began when the victim was aged 10-14, while 22% involved victims aged 9 or under.
Among the newly reported allegations, abuse by diocesan clergy peaked in 1970-1974. According to the report, 50% of alleged abuse occurred or began before 1975, 45% between 1975 and 1999, and 5% after 2000.
About 43% of alleged perpetrators in diocesan clergy did not have prior allegations against them, while 57% did. Ninety percent of alleged diocesan offenders are deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized, or missing. Forty priests or deacons identified as alleged abusers in 2019 were permanently removed from ministry.
Diocese and eparchies that responded to the survey reported over $281 million in costs related to sex abuse allegations in the 2018-2019 period. About 71% of this went to settlements for victims, while 15% went to attorney fees. Religious institutes, which are handled in a separate category, paid over $41 million. Besides settlements and legal expenses, these costs include support for offenders and other payments to victims for purposes including therapy, living expenses, or legal expenses.
In last year's audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 1,138 families who had newly reported abuse, while they provided continued support to 1,851 survivors and their families who had previously reported abuse.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Catholic churches and organizations conducted over 2.6 million background checks on clergy, employees and volunteers. More than 2.6 million adults and 3.6 million children and young people were trained in abuse awareness and reporting.
In February 2019, Pope Francis held the first-ever global summit on protecting minors in the Church. In May 2019, the pope issued new norms in the document “Vos Estis,” aiming to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable when they are accused of abuse or when they are accused of mishandling abuse allegations.
Cessario said the promulgation of Vos Estis and U.S. bishops' efforts to enact it “signaled an important and positive response” in the wake of revelations about McCarrick.
“Nonetheless, subsequent revelations of episcopal wrongdoing, the establishment of compensation plans for victims, the announcement of new grand jury investigations in several states, the filing of new lawsuits regarding abuse, and a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root,” he said.
Cessario said the National Review Board has called for a “more in-depth audit,” as well as “a further revision of the Charter that will incorporate new practices, such as parish audits, offering greater assurance of compliance.”
Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, wrote a Feb. 28 letter included in the report. He reflected on how the abuse crisis has affected Catholics' faith.