Increasing Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests

Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the independent lay National Review Board (NRB) released the 2019 Annual Report. This report audits the child safety procedures of the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children put in place after the 2002 sex abuse scandals.

Ruth Institute Research Associate, Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., has analyzed the information contained in the National Review Board report, compared it with data from previous years, and has created a brief report on his findings.

Major Findings:

  1. Cases of current, ongoing abuse: 37 -- almost three times as many allegations as have been reported in any previous year of the audit.
  2. New reports of past abuse: 4,434 previously unreported incidents of abuse since 1940 were made known in 2019.
  3. Priests removed permanently from priestly ministry: 142 -- about one-tenth of all new priests ordained in the past decade.
  4. Currently, the percentage of male and female victims is roughly equal. By contrast, victims between the 1970s and 1990s were predominantly male.

Recommendations from the National Review Board endorsed by the Ruth Institute:

  1. Although not required by the Dallas Charter, more than 60% of dioceses perform parish audits. Every diocese should implement parish audits.
  2. Currently, 25% of dioceses do not require on-going training. Nearly 15% do not require the renewal of background checks. Every diocese should require on-going training and renewal of background checks.
  3. Above all, laity and clergy should remain vigilant about the safety of children and the chastity of clergy.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse or Fr. Sullins, contact:

Clergy Sex Abuse 2020 Report

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