An Australian Cardinal Received 6 Years in Prison for Child Sexual Abuse. Here’s How Other Countries Have Punished Abusive Priests.

MELBOURNE, Australia — The sentencing of Cardinal George Pell for molesting boys greater than 20 years in the past comes simply weeks after a Vatican summit by which Pope Francis known as for “all-out battle in opposition to the abuse of minors.”

Cardinal Pell is essentially the most senior cleric within the Roman Catholic Church ever to obtain jail time for baby sexual abuse. But for many years, it has been victims, journalists and civil authorities who’ve compelled abusers into the open and known as them to account when church leaders failed to take action.

Law enforcement officers in some international locations have turn into extra keen in recent times to prosecute priest perpetrators, based on observers of the scandals.

Here is how international locations apart from Australia — with various historic and societal ties to the Catholic church — have handled abusive clergy:

United States

While 1000’s of monks have confronted civil lawsuits for sexual abuse within the United States, and a few have confronted legal trials, no one in every of Cardinal Pell’s stature has been convicted. In February, the Vatican discovered former cardinal and archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick responsible of abuse, and defrocked him. Mr. McCarrick is unlikely to face legal prosecution, nonetheless, as a result of the alleged abuse passed off nicely past the statutes of limitations.

These restrictions are widespread throughout the United States, and instantly correlate with the information on clergy abuse in any given state, mentioned Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of Some states have prolonged the statute of limitations, permitting victims extra time to report abuse. But in others, like Pennsylvania — the place an explosive grand jury report just lately documented abuse of 1,000 youngsters — the church has lobbied in opposition to payments to broaden the statute of limitations, tying prosecutors’ fingers.

“Amending laws in order that victims can attempt to get hold of justice in courtroom will assist victims,” Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer from Boston who has represented tons of of survivors, mentioned in a current assertion. The legal guidelines want to alter, Mr. Garabedian mentioned, to provide victims the prospect “to heal.”

Pope Defrocks Theodore McCarrick, Ex-Cardinal Accused of Sexual AbuseFeb. 16, 2019


Hundreds of monks have been accused of intercourse crimes in Italy, however few have been convicted, and ever fewer have gone to jail, based on restricted information. The scope of the issue has, partially, been obscured due to the comfortable relationship between church and state, say specialists, the place a tradition of impunity has lengthy protected abusive members of the clergy.

“There’s some sort of silent understanding that’s happening between the church authorities, and the police, the judges; there are some points which can be too delicate to be investigated,” mentioned Massimo Faggioli, an professional on Catholic church historical past at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. “This is because it’s all the time been within the final 4, 5, six, centuries.”

In February, the United Nations launched a report criticizing Italy for “the quite a few instances of kids who’ve been sexually abused by non secular personnel of the Catholic church,” and “the low variety of investigations and legal prosecutions.”


Mexico has the second largest Catholic inhabitants on the earth after Brazil, however solely 4 monks within the nation have been convicted of sexual abuse prior to now decade. In half, as within the United States, that is due to restrictive statutes of limitations.

A deep Catholic heritage and weak reporting legal guidelines — which solely require clergy to inform civil authorities of abuse if it happens throughout non secular worship or on church property — additionally play an element, specialists say.

“In Mexico we don’t have loads of instances denounced, however we now have an estimation of about 500 instances that may very well be prosecuted,” mentioned Adalberto Méndez, a human rights legal professional in Mexico and a member of Ending Clergy Abuse, a victims’ advocacy group.

“This is a extremely Catholic nation,” Mr. Méndez added. “The authorities don’t need issues with the church.”


Searing authorities reviews exposing the scope and severity of the abuse downside in Ireland — which relied on the Catholic church to run colleges, orphanages and different social service organizations for many years — have undermined the nation’s belief within the church. Ninety-three monks and brothers have been convicted there, based on

“The authorities would have bowed right down to the church” mentioned Marie Collins, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in Ireland, and a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a bunch created to advise Pope Francis.

“Those days,” she mentioned, “are nicely and actually handed.”

In some instances, nonetheless, strict defamation legal guidelines in addition to privateness lawsuits filed by the church have protected abusers from being publicly recognized, stifling additional investigation, specialists mentioned. A regulation holding church officers accountable for overlaying up abuse was lastly launched in 2006.

“The actual anger was centered on the church authorities and their failure to behave,” mentioned Maeve Lewis, the chief director of One in Four Ireland, a sufferer help group. That was what “induced so many individuals to utterly abandon the church,” she mentioned.

Pope to Visit Ireland, Where Scars of Sex Abuse Are ‘Worse Than the I.R.A.’Aug. 23, 2018


The Philippines has the third-largest Catholic group on the earth, however no monks there have been convicted of kid sexual abuse, based on At the Vatican summit in February, nonetheless, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, admitted that “wounds” had been inflicted by bishops, and wanted to be healed.

Cardinal Tagle has been criticized for his lack of dedication to zero-tolerance insurance policies on baby sexual abuse within the church. That mixed with what victims’ advocates describe as legal guidelines hostile to victims and a scarcity of survivor help teams, make it difficult to carry perpetrators to justice within the Philippines.

A handful of monks and bishops have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct, however it’s “very uncommon,” mentioned Shay Cullen, a priest within the Philippines and founding father of the Preda basis, which helps victims of abuse.

“Denial and cover-up is rampant,” Father Cullen mentioned. “If the reality ever breaks out,” he mentioned, “there’ll an avalanche of instances.”

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Cardinal George Pell of Australia Convicted of Sexually Abusing Boys in 1996Feb. 25, 2019Cardinal George Pell of Australia Sentenced to Six Years in PrisonMarch 12, 2019In Australia, Catholic Church’s Bank Is Full, however Pews Are EmptyMarch 12, 2019

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