London [UK], Feb. 6 : Seven percent of Australia's Catholic priests were accused of abusing children in the six decades since 1950, according to new data from the Royal Commission.
On Monday, the commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse released damning statistics on the scale of the crisis within the Catholic Church, reports the Guardian.
The numbers confirm the extent of sexual predation already suggested by four years of royal commission hearings involving the church, which are now entering their final weeks.
Up to 15 percent of priests in some dioceses were alleged perpetrators between 1950 and 2015, with abusers most prevalent in the dioceses of Sale and Sandhurst in Victoria, Port Pirie in South Australia, and Lismore and Wollongong in New South Wales.
The numbers were even worse in some national Catholic orders. By far the worst was the order of the St. John of God Brothers, where a staggering 40 percent of religious brothers are believed to have abused children.
Twenty-two percent of Christian Brothers and 20 percent of Marist Brothers, both orders that run schools, were alleged perpetrators.
More than one in five priests in the Benedictine community of New Norcia were alleged perpetrators, while 17.2 percent of clergy were accused of crimes against children in the Salesians of Don Bosco order.
In total, between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 people alleged incidents of child sexual abuse relating to 93 Catholic Church authorities.
The abuse allegedly took place in more than 1,000 institutions. The average age of victims was 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys. Almost 1,900 perpetrators were identified and another 500 remained unidentified. Thirty-two per cent were religious brothers, 30 percent were priests, 29 percent were lay people and five percent were religious sisters.
The royal commission said 37 percent of all private sessions it held with survivors from all institutions related to abuse in the Catholic Church.
The figures were revealed by senior counsel assisting, Gail Furness. She also revealed that the Holy See had refused to hand over documents involving Australian priests accused of abuse.
Furness said the responses of Catholic diocese and orders across the country were "depressingly similar".
The church's Truth, Justice and Healing council, set up to coordinate the church's response to the crisis, said the data without doubt "undermines the image and credibility of the priesthood".
"The data is an indictment on the priests and religious who abused these children. It also reflects on the church leaders who at times failed to take steps to deal with the abusers, failed to call them to order and failed to deal with them in accordance with the law," said council chief executive Francis Sullivan.
He described the abuse as a "massive failure" of the church and as a corruption of the gospel. "As Catholics, we hang our heads in shame," he said..