Church spent $572 million on abuse cases

The United States Catholic Bishops attempted to shed more light on one of the darker issues in their history with a Feb. 28 report on sexual abuse among American priests.

The unofficial results of the report, issued by the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, found that allegations of abuse were made against 4,392 members of the clergy, roughly 4 percent of all active clergy. Over 10,667 people came forward with allegations. The Catholic Church spent $572,507,094 nationally on costs related to the sex abuse crisis.

Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan issued a press release that listed individual numbers for abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In Milwaukee 45 diocesan clergy members had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. This is roughly 3 percent of the active diocesan clergy. The Archdiocese also spent over 3.4 million dollars in court and settlement related costs.

The archdiocese has also created an anti-abuse program called "Safeguarding All of God's Family." The program includes age-appropriate abuse prevention material that is supposed to be incorporated into Catholic schools and religious education class. Dolan also said in the release that he believes the harming of children is contrary to the will of God.

"Healing the suffering associated with clergy sexual abuse is a priority of the Catholic Church, particularly in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee," the release read.

According to the report, 81 percent of abuse victims nationally were male, while only 19 percent were female. Also the majority of abuse occurred to children who were between the ages of 10 and 14. Of the victims 78 percent came from houses with two parents and most priests knew and socialized with the families of abused children.

The report by John Jay revealed that 69 percent of abuse cases involved diocesan priests as opposed to priests in religious orders such as the Jesuits or Franciscans.

"Dioceses and orders did not screen candidates for the priesthood properly," the report read. "As a result, many sexually dysfunctional and immature men were admitted into seminaries and later ordained into the priesthood."

The report went on to say that this lack of preparation led to priests who were not ready to face the challenges of celibacy. This may be reflected in the fact that majority of the reported cases occurred within the first 10 years after being ordained.

Barbara Blaine, president and founder of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said she found the reports to be lacking.

"The information was gained from voluntary self surveys," Blaine said. "This is not the investigation or scientific study that we need."

Blaine also said that she thought the bishops should have published the names of the molesting priests so parents could protect their children.

"The numbers won't protect children," Blaine said. "Names of the abusers will protect children."

The report said some bishops and other church leaders were trying to save face for their local diocese when they concealed or hid evidence of molestation in some cases.

John Jay performed a research study that included sending surveys to bishops, heads of religious orders, individual clergy members who had been accused of and had performed abuses and abuse victims. The National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was formed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at a conference on sexual abuse among Catholic clergy in Dallas in 2002, used the data to issue "The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States."