In an Era of Change, a Persistent Crisis

New York Times
January 12, 2003

[This timeline accompanies Laurie Goodstein's Trail of Pain in Church Crisis Leads to Nearly Every Diocese. See also a description of the NY Times's survey methodology and table and charts summarizing the survey results, with an Excel spreadsheet of the table.]

1962-1965 The Second Vatican Council brings a reinterpretation of the modern church.

1967-1977 Hundreds of priests in the United States leave the priesthood annually. At the height in 1970, 675 leave.

1968 The pope issues the encylical Humanae Vitae, reasserting the ban on birth control.

Associated Press
The Rev. Gilbert Gauthe

1978 Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland becomes Pope John Paul II.

1985 The Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, a Louisiana priest who molested more than 100 boys, is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

1985 U.S. bishops meet in Minnesota and discuss sex abuse for first time.

1985 Two priests and a lawyer who defended the church in the Gauthe case produce a report predicting that sex abuse by priests will cost church $1 billion, and urging bishops to develop a national policy.

1990 The Rev. Bruce Ritter, founder of a house for runaways in New York City, resigns after accusations he had relationships with boys.

1991 First victims support group is founded by the mother of an abused boy in Chicago.

1992 The pope issues apostolic exhortation, overhauling seminary education, including more teaching about sexuality and celibacy.

1992 Torrent of cases of sexual abuse by priests reported in American media. Bishops agree on five steps to prevent sexual abuse.

1993 Archbishop Robert F. Sanchez of Santa Fe resigns after mismanaging abusive priests and confessing that he had had sexual relationships with several women.

1993 James R. Porter, accused of molesting hundreds of children in three states, is convicted.

1994 Steven Cook withdraws a $10 million lawsuit accusing Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago of molesting him.
Associated Press
The Rev. Rudolph Kos

1997 A jury finds Dallas Diocese negligent for failing to prevent the Rev. Rudolph Kos from sexually abusing at least 11 boys bet-ween 1977 and 1992.
The Palm Beach Post
Bishop J. Keith Symons

1998 Bishop J. Keith Symons of Palm Beach, Fla., who admitted he molested five boys, is the first U.S. bishop to resign for abusing children.

2001 Bridgeport Diocese agrees to pay at least $12 million to settle cases of 26 people who said they had been abused by six priests.

January 2002 Judge unseals documents showing Cardinal Bernard Law and his aides in Boston Archdiocese reassigned abusive priests, including the Rev. John Geoghan, accused of assaulting more than 130 minors.

February Lay group Voice of the Faithful is formed in Boston Archdiocese.

March 8 The Rev. Anthony J. O'Connell, bishop of Palm Beach, resigns after admitting he had sexually abused a Missouri seminary student more than 25 years ago.

Associated Press
Pope John Paul II with U.S. cardinals.

April 23-25 American cardinals and leading bishops are summoned to the Vatican for meetings on the abuse crisis.
Scott Olson for
The New York Times
Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland

May 24 Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee resigns after news reports revealed he had paid $450,000 to a man who claimed he had been abused by the archbishop.

June 11 Bishop J. Kendrick Williams of Lexington, Ky., resigns after being accused of abusing two minors decades ago, a charge that he denied.
Bishop Harry Flynn listens to a victim of sexual abuse in Dallas in June.

June 12 - 15 U.S. bishops meet in Dallas, hear testimony from abuse victims and agree on new policy to oust all priests suspected of abusing minors.

Oct. 18 Vatican substantially revises the Dallas policy, saying accused priests must be judged by tribunals made up of priests.

Dec. 13 Cardinal Bernard Law resigns after judge unseals more church documents revealing he knowingly reassigned priests who had sexual relations with girls, boys and women.


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