Here are some details of some major developments in the Roman Catholic Church abuse scandals in Europe in the last two years:
— November 30, 2011 – Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, agreed to a legal settlement over his role in administering an oath of secrecy to a teenage victim of clerical sexual abuse in 1975, the victim’s lawyer said.
— July 13, 2011 – The Catholic Church in Ireland concealed the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, a decade after it introduced rules to protect minors, and the Vatican was complicit in the cover-up, a government report into the handling of sex abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne, in County Cork, showed.
— May 31, 2010 – The Vatican named two cardinals and three archbishops from England, the United States and Canada to lead its inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland.
— March 24, 2010 – Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, accused of mishandling reports of sexual abuse in his diocese. He later accepted the resignation of two other Irish bishops.
— March 20, 2010 – In rare letter to Ireland’s Catholics, the pope told abuse victims he felt “shame and remorse” over the scandals and announced an official Vatican probe of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders.
— November 11, 2011 – Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn faced down calls for radical change in the Church from priests and lay people at a four-day meeting. Catholic rebels made calls for “disobedience” and changes in the Church, after a record 87,000 Austrians deserted it in 2010, many of them in response to allegations of sexual abuse by priests.
— December 14, 2011 – Victims of sexual abuse by priests in Belgium should be able to claim up to 25,000 euros ($32,700) in compensation from the Church, with assessments made by an independent panel, a parliamentary commission concluded.
— Hundreds of victims of abuse in the Belgian Church came forward after the former bishop of Bruges admitted in 2010 to abusing his nephew for years. Almost 500 people filed claims with an earlier commission set up by the Church but this was disbanded after police seized its documents.
— September 10, 2010 – Widespread child sexual abuse in the Belgian Church drove at least 13 victims to suicide, a Church commission reported. Of the 475 cases it recorded, two-thirds of the victims were male, with boys aged about 12 most vulnerable.
— Sept 18, 2010 – Pope Benedict made one of his strongest apologies to abuse victims while on a state visit to Britain, expressing his deep sorrow to innocent victims of “these unspeakable crimes.”
— Jan 10, 2012 – A Catholic priest admitted in a German court to sexually abusing three boys over eight years, during trips that included to Disneyland in Paris.
— In April 2011 a survey said that some 180,000 German Catholics left the Church in 2010, a 40 percent rise over the previous year, amid allegations that priests had sexually abused children for decades.
— Aug 31, 2010 – The German Church unveiled new, tougher guidelines on dealing with sexual abuse of minors, obliging church authorities to report suspected cases to police.
— June 11, 2010 – A Jesuit investigation, commissioned in January, cited on May 27, 205 allegations of sexual abuse against priests at its schools in Germany, revealing decades of systematic abuse and attempts at a cover-up.
— Feb 18, 2010 – Italy has had dozens of cases of clerical sexual abuse involving about 80 priests over the past decade, a priest who runs an anti-pedophilia organization told Vatican Radio.
— Dec 9, 2010 – A Church-commissioned report said 1,975 people had declared themselves victims of sexual and physical abuse while minors in the care of the Dutch Church, and criticized the Church for not responding to the scandals more promptly.
— June 2, 2010 – Swiss bishops said they received reports between January and May of 72 perpetrators abusing 104 victims, up from 14 perpetrators and 15 victims in 2009.
With so many people with so much power and influence, the systematic nature of these coverups points to some common denominator which goes beyond simply “institution”. Here’s a hint: It’s religion.