Sex offenders in the Catholic Church  | Inquirer News

Sex offenders in the Catholic Church 

/ 02:13 PM March 03, 2021

Theodore McCarrick

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Photo by CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

PARIS — The Catholic Church has been shaken by a string of child sex abuse scandals.

In France on Tuesday, the head of an independent enquiry investigating church child abuse said there might have been up to 10,000 victims since 1950.


Here are some high-profile cases around the world:


United States

In February 2019 Pope Francis defrocked a former cardinal in a first for the Roman Catholic church over accusations American Theodore McCarrick, 88, sexually assaulted a teenager 50 years ago.

A grand jury investigation into dioceses in Pennsylvania published in 2018 threw light on sexual assault, systematically covered up by the Church by “over three hundred predator priests”. More than 1,000 child victims were cited.

US Cardinal Donald Wuerl, accused over the abuse cover-up, resigned.

Between 1950 and 2016 the US Catholic Church received 18,500 complaints against 6,700 members of the clergy, according to the site

Several senior church members in the US have been forced to resign for protecting sex offender priests, including the late cardinal Bernard Law.


During a visit to Chile in 2018, Pope Francis stirred controversy by supporting bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up for offender priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.


Francis later apologized and invited some victims to Rome as well as summoned all of Chile’s bishops, who then presented their resignations. The pontiff has accepted some of those, including from Barros and the archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati.

In October 2018 a Chilean court ordered the Church to pay 450 million pesos ($671,000) in compensation to three victims of sexual violence by a former priest.


A Melbourne jury found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty in 2018 on one count of sexual abuse and four counts of indecent assault against two boys at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in the 1990s.

Pell was released from prison in April 2020, after the High Court quashed his conviction.

In 2018 the Vatican announced the departure of Philip Wilson, the archbishop of Adelaide found guilty of failing to report allegations against notorious sex offender Jim Fletcher in the 1970s.

Wilson was sentenced to a year in detention, but the sentence was overturned on appeal.


Since 2010 hundreds of cases of sex assault against minors in religious institutions have emerged in Germany.

The most high-profile involve the Jesuit-run Canisius college in Berlin and a choir in Ratisbonne, southern Germany. In the latter case at least 547 children were allegedly victims of assault, including rapes, between 1945 and the 1990s.

In 2018 the German Bishops’ Conference published a report saying 1,670 clergymen committed some sexual attack against 3,677 minors, mostly boys, between 1946 and 2014. Most have not been punished.


Accusations of sex crimes in Ireland’s Catholic institutions date back decades, with the number of underage victims estimated at 14,500. Several bishops and priests accused of covering up abuse have been punished.

During his visit to Ireland in 2018 the Pope met a victim of Catholic priest Tony Walsh, who sexually assaulted children for more than two decades before being defrocked and jailed.


In 2019, a French court gave Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, a six-month suspended jail sentence for covering up for a priest, Bernard Preynat, accused of assaulting around 70 scouts between 1986 and 1991.

The conviction was overturned on appeal in 2020, but the Pope accepted his resignation.

Preyant was given a five-year jail term in 2020.

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The case is the subject of the film “By the Grace of God”, which won the jury prize at the 2019 Berlin film festival.

TAGS: France, Sex abuse

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