Paedophile scandals in the Catholic Church

Here is a rundown of some of the high-profile paedophile scandals over the past 25 years.

Published: 29th August 2018 04:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th August 2018 04:33 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representation.


VATICAN CITY: The Catholic Church has been shaken by a string of paedophile scandals over the past 25 years, most recently in the US state of Pennsylvania.

Here is a rundown of some of the high-profile cases:

United States

A grand jury investigation into dioceses in Pennsylvania published in August threw light on sexual abuse, systematically covered up by the Church, by "over three hundred predator priests," of which more than 1,000 child victims were identifiable.

Between 1950 and 2013 the US Catholic Church received 17,000 complaints of sexual abuse said to have taken place in the period 1950-1980 involving around 6,400 clerics.

Experts speaking at the Vatican said in 2012 the number of abused American minors is probably close to 100,000.

Several senior church members in the US have been forced to resign for protecting paedophile priests, including the late cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles and cardinal Theodore McCarrick in Washington.


The church in Chile has also been recently rocked by accusations of a wide-scale cover-up of child abuse.

Chilean prosecutors said in July they are investigating 158 members of the country's Church -- clergymen and lay people -- for perpetrating or concealing the sexual abuse of children and adults dating back as far as 1960.

So far 38 inquiries involving 73 people have been opened over the alleged sexual abuse of a total of 104 victims, most of whom were minors at the time.

During a visit to Chile in January, Pope Francis stirred controversy by supporting a bishop, Juan Barros, accused of covering up for paedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s. Francis said he was convinced of his innocence and called on victims to present proof of his guilt.

Francis later apologised and invited some of the victims to Rome in May as well as summoning all Chile's bishops, who then presented their resignations. Five of the resignations, including that of Barros, have been accepted by the pontiff.


Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's third-highest ranking official, faces prosecution in Australia for historical child sexual offences. 

In July the Vatican announced the departure of Philip Wilson, the archbishop of Adelaide, who had been found guilty of failing to report allegations against notorious paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the 1970s. 

Wilson was sentenced to a year in detention, which he will serve at home, becoming one of the highest-ranking church officials to be convicted of concealing sexual abuse.


The most senior French Catholic cleric to be caught up in scandal in France is Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who is due to go on trial for allegedly covering up for a priest, Bernard Preynat, accused of abusing around 70 scouts in the 1980s.

In June 2017 the former bishop of the French city of Orleans, Andre Fort, was ordered to stand trial for failing to report a paedophile priest in his diocese.


Since 2010 hundreds of cases of sex abuse against minors in religious institutions have emerged in Germany.

The most high-profile involve Jesuit-run Canisius college in Berlin and a choir in Ratisbonne, southern Germany. In the latter case at least 547 children were allegedly victims of abuse, including rapes, between 1945 and the early 1990s.


Accusations of child abuse in Catholic institutions in Ireland date back several decades, with the number of underage victims estimated at around 14,500. Several bishops and priests accused of committing or covering up the abuse have been punished.

Marie Collins, who was raped by a hospital chaplain at the age of 13, quit a Vatican anti-paedophilia panel in March 2017 in protest at the lack of action.

According to the Vatican, the Pope will discreetly meet the victims of sex abuse during his trip to Ireland on August 25 and 26.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp