In his first extended interview since becoming the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s promoter of justice in 2012, Father Robert Oliver addressed questions involving accountability for bishops who fail to report clerical abuse, as well as abuse allegations against a former apostolic nuncio.
As promoter of justice, Father Oliver is responsible for addressing cases of child sexual abuse by clergy. He said earlier this year that the Congregation is examining 600 cases, most of which involve abuse that allegedly took place between 1965 and 1985.
“All the data we have suggests that the number of priests harming minors today is very, very low, and that’s based on reports not just from the United States but from other nations as well, where we see a dramatic drop in incidents of abuse,” Father Oliver told John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. “Certainly, we have much more to do, which is why our congregation asked episcopal conferences around the world to review their abuse guidelines.”
Asked about the number of cases reported to the Congregation, Father Oliver said, “I suppose in an average month, we’re talking in the dozens from around the world, including cases which date back many years. We don’t have many present-day allegations of abuse, though it’s important to remember that there’s often a delay in people coming forward to make reports. Let’s be clear: One case is one too many. Yet as we look around at this problem today, we can see many positive effects from the efforts the Church has made.”
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