Ten times more than medical treatment to U.S. victims

Legal Fees now total $200 million for the past four years

Also, number of never before reported clergy offenders in U. S. increases for first time

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP National Board, Milwaukee

United States bishops paid a staggering $60 million dollars to their attorneys last year to defend themselves for covering up child sex crimes, according to a yearly “self-report” issued today.   The total amount of money bishops have been billed by attorneys in the last four years now tops $200 million dollars.

In comparison, the bishops last year spent one tenth of that total, or about 8 million dollars, on therapy costs for victims.  And $22 million dollars was spent on child protection efforts in 2007, or just one third of what church attorneys billed Catholic dioceses last year.   

These figures were buried today in the annual self-report “audit” released by the American Catholic Bishops and they reveal very starkly exactly what the priorities are for the bishops:  themselves.   

Of equal concern, for the first time since self-reports were issued in 2004 the number of U.S. Catholic clergy with “new, credible” allegations of child sex abuse increased last year by ten percent.  204 newly identified clerics last year were reported to have committed child sex crimes in Catholic institutions across the United States.  The number of clerics known by church authorities who have raped or sexually assaulted children over the past several decades totals, with the new numbers, over 5,000.   

Sadly, on the eve of the Pope’s first visit to the United States, just a few months away: 

-The identities and settlement locations of clerical sex offenders remain secret.

-56 U.S. religious orders refused last year to even participate in the self-report and are not in compliance with the Dallas Charter.

-Clergy are still not mandatory reporters of child sex abuse in the majority of U.S. states. 

-No bishop or priest has yet to be disciplined or fired for not reporting child abuse or for covering up child sex crimes.

-Several lay review boards did not even meet in 2007.

-Church hired “auditors” who issued the report were again given no access to personal files, making it pretty hard to review criminal conduct.

-The quality, duration or nature of outreach to victims or treatment and supervision of offenders remains a mystery. 

Admittedly, some information about child sex crimes from American bishops is better than none.  But today’s self-report, like the ones issued in the past, raise a lot more questions than they answer. 

Even so, when the Pope visits the United States this spring, will the American bishops insist that the partial reforms in the United States must be implemented across the globe?   

There are 400,500 clergy in the Catholic Church worldwide.  The American bishops have admitted that at least 4 percent of their clergy are or have been child sex offenders.  That would mean, conservatively, some 20,000 priests worldwide are likely child molesters who are unpunished, untreated and unsupervised.    

As for the United States, as long as federal or national authorities, such as the Department of Justice, no doubt out of political considerations, will not investigate how over 5,000 priest child molesters were transferred into virtually every parish and school in the United States, including across state and international boundaries, Catholics have little choice but to rely on these on these thin, compromised, and poorly constructed yearly reports.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is the nation’s oldest and largest self help organization of clergy sex abuse survivors, founded in 1980 with over, 7,000 victim/survivors in 61 chapters nationwide.  Visit SNAP online at SNAPnetwork.org