Rundown of sex abuse within the Catholic church

Protesters hold up placards as Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell arrives in court in Melbourne, on May 1, 2018.

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell on Tuesday (May 1) became the highest-ranked Catholic ever to be sent to trial for sex offences, adding to a series of scandals facing the church globally.

Here is a rundown of notable cases:


Cardinal George Pell, the third highest member of the Vatican hierarchy, has been ordered to stand trial on "multiple" historical sex charges, which he denies.

His case coincided with a public enquiry that found that seven per cent of priests were presumed to have committed paedophilic acts in Australia between 1950 and 2010.


Two scandals forced the Vatican to revoke two high-ranking ultra-conservative clerics, Viennese Archbishop Hans Hermann Groer in 1995 and the bishop of Sankt-Poelten, Kurt Krenn in 2004.


In 2010, the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned after acknowledging sex abuse of two nephews. Since 2012, the Catholic Church in Belgium has received hundreds of complaints and paid almost 4.13 million euros (S$6.58 million) in compensation.


In the late 1980s, a huge scandal broke out regarding the mistreatment of children at an orphanage in Newfoundland in the 1950s to 1960s.


Some 80 members of the Chilean clergy have been implicated in a series of sex abuse affairs over the past few years.

Controversy over the bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering for a paedophile priest, marred Pope Francis' trip to the country in January 2018 when he hugged and defended the bishop.


In 2016, the case of priest Bernard Preynat, accused of abusing scouts in his Lyon parish, tainted the image of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin who allegedly covered up for him.

Barbarin will be tried along with six co-defendants in January 2019.


Since 2010, hundreds of cases of sex abuse against children or adolescents in religious institutions have emerged. The most high-profile ones involve Jesuit-run Canisius college in Berlin.


Accusations against Catholic institutions began to emerge early in the millennium, and covered several decades prior to that. The number of underaged victims was estimated at around 14,500. Several bishops and priests accused of committing or covering up the abuse have been punished.


Mexican bishop Gonzalo Galvan Castillo was forced to resign in 2015 after being accused of protecting a paedophile priest. The late founder of the ultraconservative Legion of Christ congregation, Marcial Maciel, was forced to resign in 2006, after being accused of committing sexual abuse of minors.

The Netherlands

In late 2011, a study found that several tens of thousands of minors had been sexually abused in Dutch Catholic Church institutions between 1945 and 2010. Some 800 suspects have been identified.


In 2013, Pope Francis sacked the Vatican nuncio, or ambassador, to the Dominican Republic, Poland's Jozef Wesolowski, who was charged with sexually abusing minors. He died in 2015 on the eve of his trial.

United States

Between 1950 and 2013, the Catholic Church in the US received 17,000 complaints from people who said they had suffered sexual abuse from 6,400 clerics between 1950 and 1980.

In 2012, specialists in contact with the Vatican mooted the figure of 100,000 cases of child sex abuse in the US.

Among the senior church members forced to resign for protecting paedophile priests were Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston and Roger Mahony in Los Angeles.

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