The 15th annual report on the implementation of the US bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ shows a decrease in allegations of clergy sex abuse from the two previous years.
It also indicates the need for continued vigilance since charges were raised by more than 650 adults and 24 minors.
The overall decrease in allegations coupled with the fact that charges of abuse are still being made is something Dr Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, finds troubling.
He said: “While progress continues to be made, there are worrisome signs for the future revealed in this year’s audit that cannot be ignored.”
Dr Cesareo said he was most concerned by signs of general complacency, such as a shortage of resources available to fully implement programs, failure by some dioceses to complete background checks in a timely manner and poor record keeping.
Dr Cesareo wrote that this “apparent complacency” could indicate that some in the Church think “sexual abuse of minors by the clergy is now an historic event of the past”.
The newly released report – based on audits conducted between July 1 in 2016, and June 30, 2017 – shows that 654 adults came forward with 695 allegations.
Compared to 2015 and 2016, the number of allegations decreased significantly due to fewer bankruptcy proceedings and statute of limitations changes.
The report also notes that 1,702 victim/survivors received ongoing support and that all dioceses and eparchies that received an allegation of sexual abuse during the 2017 audit year reported them to the appropriate civil authorities.