More Clerical Sex-Abuse Allegations Surfaced in '04

Crisis «Not Over,» Says Agency Director

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WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 18, 2005 ( The Catholic Church last year received 1,092 new allegations of sexual abuse against 756 priests and deacons, many involving decades-old cases.

The Office of Child and Youth Protection released today the second audit of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, implemented in the wake of the sex-abuse crisis that surfaced in 2002 and rocked the Church in the United States, especially the Boston Archdiocese.

The report, conducted by the independent Gavin Group, measured how well dioceses are integrating the charter’s standards into their diocesan administration.

Bishop William Skylstad, president of the bishops’ conference, said that the prelates are committed to being «publicly accountable for fulfilling the actions outlined in the charter to help heal those wounded as young people by sexual abuse by clergy and to prevent such abuse in the future.»

«There is undoubtedly progress still to be made, and we can still understand this problem more fully as well as we find more and even better means to confront it,» he said.

Kathleen McChesney, head of the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection, told reporters that «the crisis of sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic Church is not over.»

«What is over is the denial that this problem exists, and what is over is the reluctance of the Church to deal openly with the public about the nature and extent of the problem,» said McChesney.

The audit tallied the number of new complaints, the amount spent on them and the percentage of American dioceses that are complying with the 2002 charter.

Of the 194 dioceses audited last year, 74% were in already in compliance with the Church charter and most of the remaining 26% complied by the end of 2004.

Among the cases the surfaced last year, nearly 72% of the accused clerics were either dead, defrocked or removed from public ministry before the newest allegations were received, the report said.

The entire second report on the charter, along with executive summaries of the results for each audited diocese, can be found at the U.S. bishops’ Website.

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