Over 1300 Priests Accused of Sex Abuse Since 1950s

A survey of US Catholic dioceses conducted by the Associated Press found that 1,341 priests had been accused of sexual abuse since the 1950s, with less than half of the dioceses reporting. A report commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is scheduled to be released on February 27 by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Though this report won’t break down the numbers by diocese, 60 dioceses plan to release their own individual statistics this month.

Previous estimates of the scope of the priest sex abuse have ranged from 1,200 priests by the New York Times in January 2003 to 1,800 by the victims’ advocacy group Survivors First. David Chlohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told the Associated Press that “it’s never been about how many priests, how many victims, how much money. It’s always been about how the bishops respond.” David Cerulli, a SNAP board member, emphasized that “the real issue is not what hundreds of abusive clergy have done, but rather what dozens of complicit bishops are doing. They remain focused, even now, largely on damage control rather than genuine outreach, healing and prevention.” Victims’ advocates are also skeptical of the survey because it relies on self-reporting by members of the church, AP reports.

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USA Today 2/10/04; Associated Press 2/11/04; SNAP press statement 2/11/04

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