Paedophilia cases rock Catholic Church around the world

The paedophilia scandal that has gripped the Catholic Church in Germany - and crept into the halls of the Vatican - follows a series of similar revelations around the world in recent years. FRANCE 24 reviews some of the most striking cases.


Catholic sex abuse cases gained widespread public attention from 2002, in particular in the United States, where it was revealed that thousands of instances of child abuse went unreported by the church hierarchy for decades. In 2002, top US cardinal Bernard Law was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston over accusations that he had failed to denounce paedophile priests.

A 2004 investigation found that some 4,400 priests had engaged in sexual abuse of minors in the country between 1950 and 2002, and that the abuse had affected some 11,000 children. The church in the US has paid out millions of dollars to compensate victims and also to avoid drawn-out trials.

Hundreds of cases were revealed in the country at the end of the 1980s, before the scandal broke in the US. The church in Canada and the government also paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to victims of child abuse in 2002.

Accusations of sexual harassment led to the resignation of Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer as archbishop of Vienna in 1995. An Austrian priest was also found guilty of years of child abuse in a Salzburg monastery.

In July 2009, Pope Benedict XVI met and apologised to victims of sexual abuse on an official visit to Australia. Scandals in the country included sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s in a Catholic school in the town of Bathurst,  west of Sydney.

This year, in February, Pope Benedict XVI publicly rebuked Ireland’s bishops after a series of sex abuse scandals that rocked one of the most staunchly Catholic countries in Europe. Among cases, one priest admitted to sexually abusing over 100 children, while another said he had abused minors regularly over 25 years.

A total of 14,500 Irish children are reported to have been victims of abuse by clergy, who systematically sought to cover up paedophilia cases for at least 50 years.

Child abuse scandals emerged in March, involving 19 of the country's 27 dioceses. They revealed that two priests abused pupils in a Jesuit school in Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s. Parallel allegations cited incidents of abuse in the 1950s and 1960s, and possibly later, in a cathedral school in Regensburg, where the brother of the current pope was choir master.

In May Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg in Bavaria resigned after being accused of sexually abusing minors.

In April Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges resigned after admitting he had sexually abused a boy early in his career.

Other countries in which the church has been hit by such scandals include Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Mexico and Senegal.


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