Boston Releases Sex-Abuse Report

Archbishop O'Malley Calls the Numbers "Horrific"

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BOSTON, Massachusetts, FEB. 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Boston Archdiocese released a report showing that 162 of its priests have been accused of molesting 815 minors since 1950 -- about 7% of the 2,324 ordained priests who served.



''The numbers are truly horrific," Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley said today, "but they are also telling both in terms of extent of the problem and the time frame in which the magnitude of the problem became known."

''I take some consolation in the fact that the number of incidents of abuse occurring within the last 20 years seems to have dropped so precipitously,'' he said.

''One incident of child abuse is too many, one child hurt too much,'' he said in a statement. ''We must all do everything that we can to make sure that the scourge of child abuse not only within the church but in the wider society as well is wiped clean from our midst.''

The data were compiled as part of a nationwide survey of clergy sex abuse conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

The national report, scheduled to be released Friday, was overseen by the National Review Board, a watchdog panel formed by U.S. bishops in the wake of the abuse scandal that surfaced in Boston in early 2002.

Of the 815 allegations of sexual abuse by priests reported from 1950-2003, slightly more than half the cases involve just seven archdiocesan priests; 59% of the accused priests were ordained between 1960 and 1969.

In his statement posted on the archdiocese's Web site, Archbishop O'Malley said: "As I present this information to the people of the Archdiocese of Boston, I apologize once again to all who have been hurt so grievously by priests and the bishops who were responsible for supervising them. …

"The recent settlements that have been made by the Archdiocese of Boston and the continuing efforts of the persons and agencies of the Archdiocese to seek to assist the survivors and their families in their journey towards healing are concrete acts that express our sincere contrition and repentance for what has happened.

"While progress has been made, more needs to be done. The Archdiocese is committed to doing everything humanly possible in order to ensure that this never happens again. As Archbishop of Boston, I make that commitment once again, on behalf of myself and on behalf of the Church of Boston."

The archbishop continued: "From 1950 through 2003, a total of 2,324 ordained archdiocesan priests were incardinated in the Archdiocese of Boston. … In that time period, a total of 162 archdiocesan priests were alleged to have sexually abused a minor. The number 162 simply reflects the total number of priests against whom allegations have been received in this time period. It does not mean that a determination criminally, civilly, or canonically, has been made regarding the truth or non-truth of the allegation."

Referring to the accused, the archbishop wrote: "Of those priests ordained from 1980 through 2003, a period of over 23 years, a total of 8 priests have had an allegation made against them.

"Finally, of the 162 priests who have had an allegation made against them, 58 are now deceased.

"In addition, during the same time period, three men who served as deacons, 10 non-incardinated priests and 44 religious order priests were alleged to have sexually abused a minor. Since there is no way of knowing with any accuracy the total number of either religious order or non-incardinated priests who worked in Archdiocese of Boston from 1950-2003, no percentage number of accused to general population can be determined as above."

He continued: "The vast majority of allegations involve incidents that are alleged to have occurred within the period from 1965 to 1982. The number of allegations involving sexual abuse during the period from 1983 through 2003 shows a substantial decline in comparison to the prior periods."

"The total amount of money paid by the Archdiocese of Boston through December 2003 in settling sexual abuse claims is $120.6 million," Archbishop O'Malley said. "The total amount recovered from insurance through December 2003 is $22.3 million."

"As I and other archdiocesan officials have frequently stated no money from present parish funds or assets, the annual Catholic Appeal, the Capital Campaign, Catholic schools, Catholic Charities, or any other programs of the Archdiocese of Boston will be used to pay for the costs of the sexual abuse claims," he said.

"As was widely reported in December, the Archdiocese borrowed $90 million in order to resolve most of the pending claims," he continued. "The money that was borrowed will be paid back through money recovered from insurance companies and by the sale of archdiocesan property in Brighton, including the former archbishops' residence."

The Boston prelate added: "I find consolation in the ongoing witness and ministry of the vast majority of priests of the Archdiocese of Boston who have remained committed to the ministry of Church and the witness of Christ's love for all in their manner of life. These past few years have not been easy for you, my brothers. The criminal and immoral actions against children by some of our brother priests has tarnished us all. Yet, hundreds of you have faithfully served and continue to serve the people of God in selfless love for others."