Catholic Culture Overview
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USCCB issues new abuse report: 1,308 allegations, 17 of them current, made in 2022-23

May 28, 2024

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released its 2023 annual report on the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the document that has governed the bishops’ response to the abuse crisis since 2002.

The 2023 annual report, posted on May 27, summarizes data between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.

During that period, the abuse scandal cost dioceses and eparchies $260,509,528—including $191.1 million in settlements, $7.2 million in payments to victims, $50.0 million in attorneys’ fees, $7.4 million in support for offenders, and $4.7 million in other costs. Over the past ten years, the abuse scandal has cost dioceses and eparchies over $2.03 billion.

During the 2022-23 reporting period, the abuse scandal cost religious institutes an additional $23,534,297—and that figure is almost certainly low, since only 63% of religious institutes provided data for the report. Over the past ten years, the abuse scandal has cost religious institutes over $248 million.

The total cost of the abuse scandal over the past decade, then, has exceeded $2.25 billion.

Dioceses and religious communities spent an additional $43.7 million in child protection efforts in 2022-23.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • 1,308 allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy were reported in 2022-23 by 1,254 victims/survivors—in 67% of cases through attorneys—with the earliest alleged incidents dating back to the 1930s. The number of allegations has fallen sharply and steadily since 2019, when 4,434 allegations were lodged.
  • 74% of the allegations involving diocesan clergy, and 80% of allegations involving members of religious orders, entailed homosexual abuse.
  • Only 17 of the 1,308 allegations involved current alleged sexual abuse—four involving boys, eleven involving girls, and two involving a victim of unknown sex. Three of the allegations were substantiated, and four were unsubstantiated. The 16 current allegations in 2021-22 and 17 current allegations in 2022-23 are lower than the current allegations reported in the previous three years (37, 22, and 44).
  • 842 clerics—704 priests, 51 deacons, and the rest unknown—were accused during the 2022-23 audit period.
  • Of the 1,308 allegations, 157 have been substantiated, and 55 were found unsubstantiated.
  • 229 of the allegations involving diocesan clergy were deemed credible—down from 248 in the previous year, and significantly lower than the 968 and 1,539 in the two years prior to that. (In 76% of allegations, the investigation is ongoing.)
  • Of the diocesan allegations deemed credible for which the age of onset of sexual abuse is known, the sexual abuse began at age 10-14 in 112 cases, age 9 or less in 71 cases, and age 15-17 in 32 cases.
  • Nearly half of the credible allegations against diocesan clergy involved abuse that took place between 1965 and 1980. 78% of credibly accused clergy had prior allegations, and over half were deceased or already removed from ministry.
  • 113 of the allegations involving members of religious communities were deemed credible. New credible allegations have fallen steadily in recent years, from 383, to 252, to 148.
  • Dioceses provided new support to 183 persons who reported abuse in 2022-23, and continued support to 1,662 persons who previously reported abuse.
  • Of all credible allegations reported between 2004 and 2023, 34% took place in the 1970s, 26% in the 1960s, and 20% in the 1980s. Less than 5% have taken place since 2000.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the bishops’ conference, said that 100% of dioceses and eparchies participated in data collection for the report—the first time in the report’s 21-year history. On the other hand, only 63% of religious institutes responded to requests for data, according to Father Thomas Gaunt, SJ, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

“In addressing the ongoing evolving needs in providing safe environments and in journeying towards healing and reconciliation, the Church realizes that she must pay attention to trends, such as persons with disabilities, minor-on-minor abuse, and abuse via technology, the internet, and artificial intelligence,” said Archbishop Broglio. “The landscape is in flux, and it is imperative that our Church be up to date with information, appropriate trauma-informed responses, and pedagogy.”

Suzanne Healy, the chair of the National Review Board, noted that 70% of dioceses conduced on-site parish audits to ensure compliance with the charter. She called on all of the nation’s dioceses to conduct such audits.

“An area ripe for improvement is the ongoing non-compliance issues regarding diocesan and eparchial review boards,” she added.

The annual report was prepared with the assistance of StoneBridge Business Partners and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. StoneBridge, which conducted 65 on-site diocesan audits, voiced significant concerns about the practices of “more than 25%” of the audited dioceses:

  • “we observed a variety of topics indicating some dysfunction of Review Boards including lack of meetings, inadequate composition or membership, not following the by-laws of the Board, members not confident in their duties, lack of rotation of members, and a lack of review of diocesan/eparchial policies and procedures.”
  • lack of inclusion in diocesan policies of “language regarding child pornography or individuals who habitually lack the use of reason”
  • lack of attestation from the bishop that the diocesan safe environment program is in accord with Catholic moral principles
  • “we noted dioceses/eparchies that were not effectively monitoring compliance with their own policy requirements for training or background checks for clergy and other persons with contact with minors”


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