How Many Cases of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church?

How Many Cases of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church?

Child sexual abuse cases by Catholic priests, nuns, and religious-order members in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been and resulted in numerous claims, investigations, trials and convictions, in addition to admissions about decades of efforts by the Church to conceal reported incidents. The victims consist of boys and girls, a few as young as three years of age, with most of them being between eleven and fourteen years old. The claims started to get remote, infrequent exposure from the late 80s. Most of these included cases in which a person was blamed for decades of abuse; such claims were often made by adults or older adolescents after the abuse took place. Members of the Catholic hierarchy have also been charged for concealing sexual abuse claims and moving abusive priests to other parishes, where the abuse resumed.

United States

In August 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a report describing decades of supposed sexual abuses by priests and smokescreens by bishops. The report stated inhouse documents from six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses—a few kept in a confidential archive to which only the bishop possessed a key—disclose that over three-hundred predator priests have been believably alleged of abusing over one-thousand child victims. Pope Francis released a remarkably frank letter six days after the report’s release, admitting shamefully and with repentance the Church’s failure to act. He wrote that the Church did not exhibit any care for the child victims and literally deserted them.


In May 2018, Pope Francis summoned Chilean bishops to Rome after he obtained a 2,300-page report describing sexual abuses by Chilean priests. The report claimed that for decades, Chilean church officials had known about sexual abuse cases and resulted in an enormous cover up, even obliterating records. In 2011, the Vatican had convicted Chilean priest Father Fernando Karadima of child sexual abuse. While visiting Chile in January, Francis stood up for a Chilean bishop indicted for hiding the abuse, stating he had been defamed. However, after Vatican investigators stated that Chilean church officials had assisted in covering up numerous sexual abuse cases by the clergy, the Pope expressed regret. In May, after the three-day emergency conference at the Vatican to talk about the sexual abuse scandal, all thirty-four of Chile’s practicing and retiring bishops gave the Pope their letters of resignation. The Vatican stated in June that Pope Francis was returning investigators to Chile. Police detained one ex-priest in August over the supposed abuse of seven juveniles. Prosecutors stated that there are 158 individuals as well as bishops, priests, and lay people being investigated.


In May 2018, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, Australia was convicted of hiding the abuse of altar boys in the 70s by pedophilic priest James Fletcher. Wilson was the highest-standing Catholic official ever to be indicted for concealing sexual abuse. In July, he stated that he meant to petition the decision under the due process of law and would quit if his petition was ineffective. The following week the Vatican declared that Pope Francis had received Wilson’s letter of resignation.