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Factbox: Sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church

Pope Benedict's apology to Ireland went further than any other papal statement on child sex abuse by priests, but still fell far too short for many victims of the scandals shaking the Roman Catholic Church across Europe.
/ Source: Reuters

Pope Benedict's apology to Ireland went further than any other papal statement on child sex abuse by priests, but still fell far too short for many victims of the scandals shaking the Roman Catholic Church across Europe.

Following are details of some of the major abuse scandals in various countries:

* SWITZERLAND: The Swiss Catholic Church is investigating allegations of abuse by clergy. The Diocese of Chur, in eastern Switzerland, said on Saturday it was investigating around 10 complaints. The abbot of a monastery in the diocese said at least three of the 77 monks at Einsiedeln had committed acts of abuse since he took up office in December 2001, but no legal action had been taken.

-- Last week, a priest resigned from his post at a parish church in Chur diocese after admitting abusing a child 40 years ago, when he worked in a different country.

* NETHERLANDS: More than 200 Catholics have reported abuse after Radio Netherlands Worldwide and newspaper NRC Handelsblad revealed that three priests from the Salesian order abused pupils decades ago at a boarding school. The Church there has set up an independent inquiry headed by a Protestant politician.

* GERMANY: A Jesuit high school in Berlin reported cases of sexual abuse there in January, starting a series of revelations at other Catholic boarding schools and non-religious schools.

-- The Regensburg diocese admitted physical and sexual abuse cases at a boarding school for its famous "Domspatzen" (cathedral sparrows) boys choir. Its director, Pope Benedict's brother Rev Georg Ratzinger, admitted to slapping boys to discipline them but denied knowledge of sexual abuse. The ensuing wave of abuse charges from previously silent victims has since reached about 250.

-- Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops Conference, apologized in February for sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. His archdiocese confirmed reports he had been involved in disciplining an abusive priest without reporting this to civil authorities.

* IRELAND: -- In April 2002 Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ferns resigned over his handling of charges against a priest who committed suicide in 1999 while facing 66 charges of abuse.

-- May 2009 - The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a five-volume report that took nine years to compile. It said priests beat and raped children during decades of abuse in Catholic-run institutions.

-- November 2009 - The Murphy report, a government-commissioned inquiry into abuse in Dublin from 1975 to 2004 said church authorities covered up widespread cases of child sexual abuse until the mid-1990s.

-- December 2009 - After meeting two Irish Church leaders, Pope Benedict said he shared the "outrage, betrayal and shame" over the scandal in Ireland.

-- February 2010 - Benedict held crisis talks with 24 Irish bishops at the Vatican. The bishops promised him they were committed to cooperating with authorities. Four bishops have offered their resignations and the pope has so far accepted one.

-- March 2010 - Pope Benedict apologized to victims of child sex abuse by Irish clergy, saying he felt "shame and remorse." In an unprecedented letter on Saturday, to both the clergy and the victims, the pope also announced a formal Vatican investigation of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders affected by the scandal. Irish victims accused the pope of evading the question of Vatican responsibility in the long-awaited, eight-page letter. * UNITED STATES: June 2002 - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed on a new policy that would forbid pedophile priests from ever again acting as clerics - but not necessarily expel them from the priesthood. .

-- December 2002 - Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law resigned over charges he transferred clerical abusers to other parishes to cover up the scandal.

-- February 2004 - Independent researchers commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said 10,667 people accused U.S. priests of child sexual abuse from 1950 to 2002. More than 17 percent of accusers had siblings who were also abused.

-- July 2007 - Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1940s, in the largest compensation deal of its kind.

-- April 2008 - Pope Benedict met victims of abuse by priests during his visit to the United States. The U.S. church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims since the scandal first broke in 1992.

-- October 2009 - The diocese of Wilmington, Delaware filed for bankruptcy protection. It later agreed to provide documents to alleged sex abuse victims to postpone the start of about 80 civil cases. Since 2002, the Wilmington diocese has settled eight cases for an average of about $780,000 each.

* BRITAIN - July 2000 - London Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor acknowledged making a mistake in a previous post in the 1980s by allowing a pedophile priest to continue working. The priest was jailed in 1997 for abusing nine boys over a 20-year period.

* AUSTRIA - July 2004 - Austrian News magazine Profil ran pictures of priests kissing and groping seminarians at a Roman Catholic seminary in the St. Poelten diocese.

-- In Austria, accusations of clerical abuse continued to grow in March. Former pupils of the Kremsmuenster Abbey told media that three of their Benedictine monk teachers committed sexual abuse on children and beat them during the 1980s.

-- The arch-abbot of Salzburg's St Peter's monastery, Bruno Becker, quit in March after admitting to sexually abusing a boy 40 years ago.

* AUSTRALIA -- July 2008 - On a visit to Australia, Pope Benedict apologized for sexual abuse by clergy. At that time there had been 107 convictions for sexual abuse in the Catholic church there.

* MEXICO - March 2009 - Pope Benedict ordered an inquiry into the Legionaries of Christ priestly order whose founder was discovered to be a sexual molester. In 2006, the pope told the founder, Father Marcial Maciel, to retire to a life of "prayer and penitence." Maciel died in 2008. His order acknowledged in 2009 that he had fathered at least one child with a mistress.

* CANADA - Oct 2009 - Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish in Nova Scotia was charged with possession and importation of child pornography. Earlier that year, he had overseen a C$13 million ($12 million) settlement with clerical abuse victims in the Antigonish diocese in a case dating back to 1950.

Sources: Reuters/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops