"Even a single act of sexual abuse of a child by a member of the clergy is a grave evil," writes Archbishop Raymond L. Burke in his column on page 4 of today’s Review.
Archbishop Burke devotes this week’s column to a discussion of the release today, Feb. 27, of two documents on what he calls "the scandal of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy."
The documents are:
* National statistics on abuse from the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board, covering the period from 1950 through 2002. The figures were compiled by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York from information submitted by most of the U.S. Catholic dioceses.
* The National Review Board’s companion study on the causes of sexual abuse, based primarily on personal interviews.
Archbishop Burke provides the statistics for the St. Louis Archdiocese in his column. From 1950 to 2002, 148 people alleged child sexual abuse by members of the clergy here, with allegations brought against 69 clergymen, out of a total of 1,210 diocesan priests and 313 permanent deacons. That is roughly 4.5 percent of all St. Louis clergy in that time period.
Four priests were exonerated, the Archbishop adds.
Archbishop Burke also provides the cost of the sexual abuse cases to the archdiocese. From 1950 to 2002, $2,101,462 was spent "providing assistance to alleged victims ..."
The reports issued today go only through 2002. Based on information in its 2003 annual financial statement, the archdiocese spent an additional $1,076,838 in that year for assistance to victims, legal fees and counseling for clergy related to sexual abuse matters.
"The archdiocese has never paid money to a victim or alleged victim to obtain his or her silence about an allegation," the Archbishop stresses. "The giving of assistance does not constitute the admission that the alleged act of sexual abuse took place, or, if it did take place, that the archdiocese knowingly permitted it to happen.
"Rather, the archdiocese, with the help of professionals, studies the needs of the victim or alleged victim and, when appropriate, provides assistance," the Archbishop wrote.
Archbishop Burke, in his column, thanks his predecessor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and the many members of his staff who helped develop "so thorough a response to the evil of sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the archdiocese."
And, he tells readers, "I express my sincerest apology to those who have been abused by a member of the clergy or any other archdiocesan personnel."