Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Clergy sexual abuse lawsuits have been
a mainstay of the media for the past 4 - 5 years. Although clergy
sexual abuse has been going on for decades or longer, recent lawsuits
have brought this chronic problem out into the light.
In regards to the recent, ongoing waves
of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits, no one denomination has been
hit harder than the Catholic priests. Since 2000, clergy abuse
ranks right at the top of Catholic church scandals. It is estimated
that 1 - 2 percent of all Catholic priests have been accused of
Most of the clergy sexual abuse lawsuits against
Catholic priests have involved molestation of a minor. When George
Weigel broke a news story in 2002 concerning clergy sexual abuse
by ordained priest John Geoghan, this started a wave of allegations
and lawsuits and would become the number one Catholic church scandal
for the next five years.
In the later part of 2002, several clergy abuse lawsuits would
be filed against Reverend Paul Shanley. In 2004, then Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger would reopen a Roman Catholic sex abuse investigation
in regards to Mexican priest Marcial Maciel and in 2006 Pope Ratzinger
forced Marcial Maciel to give up his ministry. This move helped
to thwart speculation in regards to the Vatican hiding accused
The allegation of the Vatican hiding accused priests was one
of the most damaging aspects of the clergy sexual abuse cases
outside the actual instances of molestations that happened primarily
against teenage boys. Several bishops were heavily criticized
for moving the priest pedophiles from one parish to the next,
where the priests would then re-offend.
Critics of the Vatican hiding accused priests stated that the
Bishops had no lawful business invoking Canon law over state law.
Bishops were also accused of putting the financial interests of
the Catholic church ahead of the wellbeing of the victims and
those at risk of becoming victimized.
Archbishop of Boston, Bernard Law resigned for his mishandling
of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in 2002. Bishop Brendan Comiskey
of Ferns, Ireland also resigned for mishandling a scandal involving
over 100 cases of sexual abuse of a minor.
More recent clergy sexual abuse lawsuits include a $150 million
case involving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre,
New York and the $60 million settlement in the case of the California
diocese presided over by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony. Mahony's lawsuit
involved 45 cases of clergy sexual abuse of minors by several
different priests. The archdiocese still faces an additional 500
clergy sexual abuse claims that have yet to be settled.
As far as Catholic church scandals go, the myriad of clergy sexual
abuse lawsuits have not run their course yet and many more are
expected to be filed in months to come.