Bishop Accountability


Accused Priests: 5
Total Priests: 626
Alleged Victims: NA
Cost: $1,625,800 (of which $1,300,000 for counseling, assistance, and settlements for victims; and $325,800 for legal fees)

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop John Nevins. The June 2002 database examined the records of bishops and identified those who had allowed accused priests to continue working or had otherwise protected priests accused of sexual abuse. The database is relevant to the bishops' "Nature and Scope" study because the bishops who prepared the surveys for the study are in many cases responsible for the "scope" of the problem.

Panel criticizes U.S. bishops over abuse

Church leaders blamed for failure to stop clerical sex offenses

February 29, 2004
(Ft. Myers FL) News-Press

WASHINGTON — A panel of prominent Roman Catholics rebuked U.S. bishops Friday for failing to stop widespread clerical sex abuse over the last half-century, calling the leaders’ performance “shameful to the church.” The top American bishop pledged that the church’s mistakes will never be repeated.

“The terrible history recorded here today is history,” said Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The exchange came as the National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel formed by the bishops, issued two highly anticipated studies documenting the molestation problem from 1950 to 2002.

One report is the first church-sanctioned tally of abuse cases: It found there have been 10,667 abuse claims over those 52 years. More than 80 percent of the alleged victims were male and over half said they were between ages 11 and 14 when they were assaulted.

About 4 percent of all American clerics who served during the years studied — 4,392 of the 109,694 priests and others under vows to the church — were accused of abuse.

In Southwest Florida, five priests — less than 1 percent of the 626 priests who have served in the Diocese of Venice in the past 19 years — have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors, according to the the diocese.

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice conducted the tally of abuse claims for review board, receiving survey responses from 97 percent of the nation’s 195 dioceses, plus 142 religious communities, including Southwest Florida.

The Venice diocese ministers to 217,000 Catholics attending 54 churches in 10 counties, including Lee, Collier and Charlotte.

The John Jay report also calculated abuse-related costs such as litigation and counseling at $572 million, and noted that the figure does not cover settlements within the past year including $85 million in Boston.

Locally, the Venice diocese has spent more than $1.3 million in counseling, assistance and settlements for victims and an additional $325,800 in legal fees in the past 19 years.

The report on the causes of the crisis was based on interviews with clergy, victims, experts on sex offenders and others who have studied molestation.

In a statement released Friday, Bishop John J. Nevins of the Diocese of Venice called the report a “disturbing and sobering picture.’’

"These studies are providing a huge amount of data and will freshly open slowly healing wounds," he said. "Nevertheless, the data will help us to continue to take the steps needed to guarantee the protection of children, not only in our churches and schools, but everywhere in society where disturbed people would seek to do them harm."

Voice of the Faithful, a nationwide group that supports victims of abuse by priests, supports priests of integrity and advocates a greater role for the laity in the church, said the report fails to answer crucial questions — exactly who is responsible for covering up information pertaining to sexual offenders? Are guilty parties still in pastoral environments or positions of authority? Why has only one bishop resigned because of the cover up of the sexual abuse scandal?

The News-Press staff writer Wendy Fullerton contributed to this report.




Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.