Catholic bishops report seven abuse cases during 2010

April 12, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) U.S. Catholic bishops announced Monday (April 11) that
sexual abuse accusations against Catholic clergy increased in 2010, and
auditors found 57 dioceses do not follow church guidelines on child
protection.


The number of clergy accused of abuse increased last year from 286
to 345, the bishops conference reported in its annual survey of sex
abuse claims. Most of the accusations were made by adults who reported
decades-old abuse; seven accusations occurred in 2010, according to the
bishops conference.


Costs related to sexual abuse also increased in 2010 by more than
$19 million to $70.4 million, most of which (57 percent) was spent on
settlements with sex abuse victims.


Meanwhile, audits of local dioceses conducted by the Boston-based
Gavin Group found "weaknesses in audit compliance," the bishops
conference said, including 55 dioceses that could be considered
noncompliant if changes are not made.


In those dioceses, auditors found problems with church-recommended
"safe environment" programs and inadequate training for children,
pastors, or directors of religious education. Two dioceses -- Lincoln,
Neb. and Baker, Ore. -- refused to cooperate with the auditors at all.


The "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People"
adopted by the bishops in 2002 calls for the education policies and the
annual audits, which are not mandatory, though 188 dioceses participated
last year. The bishops plan to review the charter in June.


The value of the audits have been questioned since a February grand
jury report accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which had been
found in compliance by auditors, of failing to remove 37 accused priests
from ministry.


Victims' advocates accused the bishops of "breaking their own
promises."


"After a decade or more of promises, bishops are still refusing to
abide by their own vague, weak policies adopted largely as public
relations moves," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of the
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.