Ruth Institute Research Associate, Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., responded to the newly released 2019 Annual Report from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the independent lay National Review Board (NRB) about on-going clerical sex abuse.
“The report showed a significant increase in both allegations and findings of sexual abuse by priests. The Ruth Institute, along with the National Review Board, believes this is due to a lack of sufficient oversight. Clergy sex abuse is out of the news. We think it should be news.”
Fr. Sullins has dealt extensively with this issue, having done reports on clerical sex abuse in 2018 and 2019. His analysis of the findings and recommendations from this latest report can be found here.
In summary, Fr. Sullins noted:
- Cases of current, ongoing abuse: 37 — almost three times as many allegations as have been reported in any previous year of the audit.
- New reports of past abuse: 4,434 previously unreported incidents of abuse, in some cases going back decades, which were only made known in 2019.
- Priests removed permanently from priestly ministry: 142 — about one-tenth of all new priests ordained in the past decade.
- The percentage of male and female victims is now roughly equal. In years past, the victims were predominately male.
The Ruth Institute endorses the recommendations of the National Review Board, which provides the USCCB these reports on an annual basis:
- Every diocese should mandate parish-level audits. Currently, only 60% of dioceses require these audits.
- Every diocese should require ongoing training and renewal of background checks. Currently, 25% and 15% respectively do not meet these requirements.
- Clergy and laity must remain fully engaged about the safety of children and faithfulness of clergy.
Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D., concluded: “Given the tragic history of the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, which scarred the lives of so many, we must not become complacent. We must be vigilant to ensure no repetition of the scandals of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ’90s.”