Australian Cardinal and Aide to Pope Is Charged With Sexual Assault

Jun 29, 2017

By Jacqueline Williams

SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s senior Roman Catholic prelate, and one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, has been charged with sexual assault, the police in the Australian state of Victoria said on Thursday.

The prelate, Cardinal George Pell, became the highest-ranking Vatican official in recent years to face criminal charges involving accusations of sexual offenses. The case will test the credibility of Francis’ initiatives to foster greater accountability after abuse scandals that have shaken the church around the world.

“Cardinal Pell has been charged on summons, and he is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court” on July 18, Shane Patton, the deputy police commissioner, said at a news conference.

The charges were served on the cardinal’s legal representatives in Melbourne. Commissioner Patton said there were multiple complainants but refused to provide further details about them, including their ages.

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30 comments on “Australian Cardinal and Aide to Pope Is Charged With Sexual Assault

  • “Ms. Milligan said that she had interviewed the cardinal’s accusers for more than a year and that the accusations covered several decades.”

    The Church is just a remnant of an ancient institution, something that we do not need anymore: it does not provide moral guidance (it has never done so) and it does not help fighting the plagues of our time. Regardless of the alleged positive effects of religion on people, I think that an organism as the church is for mankind today, utterly redundant.

    And this without considering the absurd things that we read on a monthly basis.



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  • The question at this stage is whether His Eminence’s reportedly dodgy health can withstand the stresses of a flight in first class to Melbourne in time for the hearing. Getting through the airport at either end of the flight might be the hardest parts of the journey, whereas the flight itself can quite comfortably be slept through, especially if one has a clear conscience.



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  • Garrick #4
    Jun 30, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Getting through the airport at either end of the flight might be the hardest parts of the journey,

    If he has a police escort taking him into custody, this would make it much simpler!

    whereas the flight itself can quite comfortably be slept through, especially if one has a clear conscience.

    On the other hand, after having made numerous denials, anticipating the prospects of being confronted in court with numerous witnesses and substantial evidence, jogging old memories, could be quite unsettling!



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  • Several studies have found that, at “only” 2%, the incidence of abuse by priests in the Catholic church does not exceed that in the general population. Be that as it may I have to ask, if these men are all being “called into service by God” perhaps God should do a better job of screening those in his employ.

    PS. what is with the new ‘Prove your humanity’ arithmetic test on the login page? Are there really thousands of bots out there with RD accounts?



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  • My dad was prominent enough in the local catholic community where I grew up to have a bishop over for dinner every so often. It turned out that at least six of the priests the family associated with would be involved in sex scandals, including two successive high school principals, an assistant principal, and one who as a seminarian was a summer camp counselor. It seems to me that it was a lot more than 2% of priests, at least in that local diocese.



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  • In the eightys the first hints of widespread abuse by the churches was met with disbelief.
    What happened to the victims of the thirtys and fortys? Those are now adults, maybe still within the church.
    The abused turning in abusers?



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  • @gwolf #7.

    Like you my gut feeling tells me the real number of abusers in the Catholic church is higher than this. My theory is that there are young men who, when faced with the realization they are sexually attracted to children, decide to seek refuge in theology in the hope that Jesus may cure them of this affliction. They need professional psychological help. Instead they get religious mumbo jumbo and society suffers the tragic consequences.



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  • It seems the years of denial and cover-up are still gradually catching up with the Vatican.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/world/australia/cardinal-george-pell-australia-scandal-catholic-church.html

    This week, Cardinal Pell, 76, became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses, decades into a wide-reaching international abuse scandal.

    The question now for the victims of Ballarat, and for Catholic faithful everywhere, is not just whether George Pell, native son of an Australian mining town, is guilty and will be convicted, it’s also how he rose to the pinnacle of power at the Vatican even as a cloud of scandal trailed him.

    The charges this week that the cardinal himself was involved in sexual offenses followed years of criticism that he had at best overlooked, and at worst covered up, the widespread abuse of children by clergymen in Australia.

    An investigation by the Australian Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concluded that 7 percent of Catholic priests in Australia had been accused of sexually abusing children between 1950 and 2010.

    The commission faulted Cardinal Pell’s handling of cases as the archbishop who, starting in 1996, first led the archdiocese of Melbourne and then Sydney. Five priests in one of his parishes were convicted, and some testified that he had had knowledge of their activity.

    Cardinal Pell was pilloried for accompanying a priest to trial rather than the victims, who were so broken by the abuse they had suffered that many of them committed suicide.

    On Thursday, Cardinal Pell said he would return to Australia “to clear my name,” thanking Pope Francis for giving him leave from his job as Vatican finance chief.

    Yet his long preservation in the church hierarchy under three different popes was not always surprising for many in Australia, where Pell fought dissent like a prizefighter, where religious schools receive billions of dollars from the government and where the interests of church and state are often fused.



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  • 11
    Garrick says:

    New York Times article quoted at #10
    On Thursday, Cardinal Pell said he would return to Australia “to clear my name,” thanking Pope Francis for giving him leave from his job as Vatican finance chief.

    Good to know his health is not bothering him after all, and very good of Pope Francis to give him time off. As for clearing his name, we shall see.



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  • I see that Catholic theocracy is still victim blaming rapist victims, and abusing women who are in need of medical help!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-40530711
    A teenager in El Salvador has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide after delivering a stillborn baby in a toilet.

    Prosecutors argued Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz had avoided antenatal care, tantamount to killing the child.

    Her lawyers said she did not know she was pregnant and no crime had occurred. They said the pregnancy was as a result of repeated rapes she did not report.

    The Central American country completely bans abortion in all circumstances.

    Dozens of women have been imprisoned for the deaths of their foetuses in cases where they said they had suffered miscarriages or stillbirths.

    El Salvador abortion ban lethal, says Amnesty

    In April last year, Ms Hernandez gave birth in the latrine of her home in a small rural community. She lost consciousness after losing large amounts of blood.

    When her mother took her to hospital, leaving the baby’s remains behind, Ms Hernandez was detained on suspicion of procuring an abortion.

    Eleven days later she had an initial court hearing and she has been in custody since.

    Her charge was changed to aggravated homicide when no evidence was found of her having had an abortion.

    Although she was in the third trimester, Ms Hernandez said she had confused the symptoms of pregnancy with stomach ache because she had experienced intermittent bleeding, which she thought was her menstrual period.

    She told the court: “I did not want to kill my son.”

    The judge did not believe she did not know she was pregnant.

    Those indoctrinated faith-heads have their dogmatic ignorance, and determination to find some pretext to wreak vengeance on “sinners”, so they really don’t want to look objectively or constructively, at sexual or medical issues or consider expert medical advice!



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  • Of course abusive religious leaders are not confined to Catholicism!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-40531730

    An 81-year-old former Koran teacher who was convicted of a string of child sex offences has been jailed for 13 years.

    An 81-year-old former Koran teacher who was convicted of a string of child sex offences has been jailed for 13 years.

    He had denied the charges involving four girls aged between five and 11 and blamed “politics” in the mosque for the accusations.

    But sentencing him, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told Sadiq: “Children called you ‘uncle’ as a mark of respect. You are a man in my judgement of some cunning.”

    He added: “Beneath the veneer there is a dark and deviant side.”

    Sadiq, who was a part-time Imam, sexually assaulted two girls under the age of 13 by touching, and indecently assaulted two other girls over a decade between 1996 and 2006 at the Woodville Road mosque.

    He abused them if they made a mistake while reciting the Koran and would use a stick as a form of punishment in class, hitting people over the hand or hard on the back.

    Some of his victims said they were afraid to attend the mosque because of his abuse.

    One said she had attempted to take her own life because of the abuse.

    In victim impact statements read to the court, others said they felt they could not tell anyone about the abuse because of the culture they grew up in.

    The court heard one victim feared the consequences of speaking out following Sadiq’s conviction.

    She said: “Due to my religion it was very difficult, almost impossible to tell anyone what had happened”.

    She added: “In the Muslim religion we do not talk about personal matters”.

    Another victim said it was “not acceptable” in her culture to talk about what was happening at the mosque.

    She said: “I remember the relief I felt when I told my mother, and she believed me and went to the police.

    “In my family honour is very important, but my family have been very supportive”.

    Sadiq has had no involvement in the mosque since 2006 when it burnt down and was re-sited elsewhere in the city.



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  • I see a cover-up by a C of E clergyman has also come to light! –
    apparently as a result of putting a priest in a job of public responsibility [Director of social services in Kent], in charge of supervising a church run organisation involving children!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40547383

    A clergyman who oversaw a children’s home where abuse took place in the 1970s and 80s “never once” reported staff to police, he said in a newly-discovered interview.

    Mr Stacey was a director of social services in Kent at a time when girls were drugged and abused at Kendall House in Gravesend.

    He died in May 2017 aged 89.

    A review published last year found that girls at the home, which was run by the Church of England, were routinely drugged, locked up, and sexually abused.

    The recording was discovered in British Library archives by a former Kendall House resident and abuse survivor, Teresa Cooper.

    The interview with Mr Stacey, who had been a parish priest in South London before jobs at Oxfam and Kent County Council, was recorded in 2006 and published last month as part of a series for the British Library’s sound archive called “pioneers of charity and social welfare”.

    In the wide-ranging discussion with a researcher, he said: “Nobody was to go to the police about accusations against staff without my approval”.

    He said it was “incredible the way times have changed – I could never begin to do that now”.

    But he added: “Children, especially children in care, are incredibly manipulative.”

    Mr Stacey said the sanctions were “terribly few” if children misbehaved, describing how residents of Kent’s children’s homes were “sent to bed without any supper” if they came in late, suspecting them of having shoplifted or having sex in churchyards.

    He said children called Childline to say they were being abused if they were sent to bed early.

    “The child would creep down and telephone Childline saying ‘I’m being abused’,” he said.

    Mr Stacey went on to say that he never reported staff to the police, “because I never felt that we had a serious case” – although he did ask some to resign.

    “I would try and get them to go to counselling,” he said.

    “[It’s] terribly sad if you’re sexually orientated towards children, you know.”

    I think it’s terribly sad for the child victims too!



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  • It looks like he is going to get his day(s) in court!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-40712528

    Cardinal George Pell has arrived at an Australian court, amid a large media scrum, to face charges of sexual assault.

    The Vatican treasurer, 76, is accused of historical assaults involving “multiple complainants”, police in the state of Victoria said last month.

    Cardinal Pell has said he will strenuously defend himself against the allegations.

    Last month, Cardinal Pell said he was “looking forward” to his day in court.

    Australia’s most senior Catholic figure arrived in his home country earlier this month, after being granted a leave of absence from the Vatican to fight the charges.

    Victoria Police said they had made the decision to charge Cardinal Pell after receiving advice from prosecutors earlier this year.

    “Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants,” Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said last month.



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  • It looks like Pell is going to have his days in court – with dates for hearing being arranged today!

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/cardinal-pell-faces-australian-court-sex-charges-170726001421911.html

    Cardinal Pell faces court on sexual abuse charges

    Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell made his first appearance in an Australian court on historical sex abuse charges on Wednesday, facing a massive media scrum before the primarily administrative hearing.

    The 76-year-old, a top adviser to Pope Francis, returned from Rome earlier this month to face multiple charges in Melbourne relating to offences allegedly committed decades ago when he was a senior cleric in Australia.

    Details of the charges have not been made public although police said they involved “multiple complainants”. The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop has always maintained his innocence.

    Pell has not yet entered a plea. On Wednesday, his lawyer Robert Richter told the court Pell planned to plead not guilty at a future court date.

    Pell, looking sombre and frail, made no comment as he was escorted by a group of police officers through a crush of cameras, reporters and photographers outside the Melbourne Magistrates Court, which hears hundreds of cases a week for alleged crimes ranging from theft to murder.

    He was not required to attend the brief hearing, which allows lawyers to discuss when the prosecution brief can be handed over and set out the next dates in what is expected to be a lengthy court process.

    But Australia’s most powerful Catholic opted to appear, having previously vowed to defend himself and clear his name after a two-year investigation led to him being charged on June 29.

    Al Jazeera’s Yaara Bou Melhem, reporting from Melbourne, said this was an unprecedented case.

    “No cardinal in the modern era, in a free society, has ever had criminal offences levelled against him,” she said.

    “And this is not just any cardinal; this is the Vatican number three, this is a career priest, at the climax of his career, who has been hand-picked by Pope Francis to go to the Vatican to clean up and bring order and transparency to the Medieval structure of the Vatican finances.”



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  • @#15 – Alan4discussion #15
    Jul 9, 2017 at 7:23 am

    I see a cover-up by a C of E clergyman has also come to light! –
    apparently as a result of putting a priest in a job of public responsibility
    [Director of social services in Kent],
    in charge of supervising a church run organisation involving children!

    What’s more, this just looks like the tip of the iceberg – with more revelations to follow!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43019766

    The Church of England faces two years of revelations about sexual abuse and cover-ups, a bishop has said.

    The Church will be the focus of hearings at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse next month.

    The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Rev Peter Hancock, told the Church’s ruling general synod: “We will hear deeply painful accounts of abuse, of poor response, and over cover-up.”

    Several bishops joined a silent protest by abuse survivors outside the synod.

    Among them were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu and other supporters off the victims.

    Despite this show of support, one of the protesters, Gilo, told the BBC that the Church was “failing” to set a good example in the way it handled complaints.

    A royal commission last year revealed more than 1,100 allegations of child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church in Australia over 35 years.
    The Church admitted it tried to silence victims to protect its reputation.

    But hey! The senior clergy who should have taken responsibility to stop the abuse years ago, have now turned about-face, and belatedly joined the supporters of the victims in prayer!!!



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  • Alan4discussion #18

    “The senior clergy who should have taken responsibility to stop the
    abuse years ago, have now turned about-face, and belatedly joined the
    supporters of the victims in prayer!!!”

    When the heat is on, just play the ‘repenting sinner’, otherwise known as the ‘get out of jail free’ card.



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  • Alan #14

    “In my family honour is very important, but my family have been very supportive”.

    That “but” is surely one of the saddest conjunctions. We will have won a battle for decency when it is replaced by “and so”.



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  • He may have” joined the supporters of victims in prayer”, but the energetic denials of responsibility now continue!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-43281940

    Cardinal George Pell has returned to an Australian court for a hearing that will determine whether he stands trial on sexual assault charges.

    The Catholic cleric, 76, has strongly denied what police have described as historical accusations by “multiple complainants” in the state of Victoria.

    He will plead not guilty to all charges, his lawyer said last year.

    The court hearing in Melbourne is expected to run for a month. Much of it will be closed to the public and media.

    Cardinal Pell was given a police escort into the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday as dozens of media representatives and bystanders watched on.

    Inside, his lawyer, Robert Richter QC, accused police of investigating the cardinal with a “presumption of guilt”.

    Nothing to do with statements from multiple witnesses then?! 🙂

    Australia’s most senior Catholic figure is considered the third-ranking official at the Vatican, where he is in charge of the Church’s finances.

    Last year, Cardinal Pell took a leave of absence from the Vatican to fight the sexual assault charges in Australia.

    Last June, Victoria Police charged Cardinal Pell with “multiple” sexual offence charges involving “multiple complainants”.



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  • Meanwhile:- There seems to be excessive optimism among some of its women members, about the possibilities of modernising and reforming the RCC!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43330026

    A former president of Ireland has criticised the Catholic Church as “an empire of misogyny”.

    Mary McAleese was speaking in Rome ahead of the Voices of Faith conference, which features prominent Catholic women from around the world.

    They are celebrating International Women’s Day by demanding a greater say for women in Church governance.

    Pope Francis has declined to attend their meeting or to celebrate Mass for those attending.

    Vatican Radio has censored its reports on their demand for gender equality.

    “The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny,” said Mrs McAleese. “It’s an empire of misogyny.

    “There are so few leadership roles currently available to women.

    Mrs McAleese said women do not have strong role models in the Church they can look up to.

    A Church hierarchy that is “homophobic and anti-abortion is not the Church of the future”, she added.

    “We don’t want to be what the Pope describes as ‘the strawberry on the cake’, she said.



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  • Alan #22

    Meanwhile:- There seems to be excessive optimism among some of its
    women members, about the possibilities of modernising and reforming
    the RCC!

    It speaks such volumes about the power of the brainwashing that these women still remain members. It’s not as if there weren’t other, less overtly misogynistic flavours of church available, after all.

    It seems the narrative of the primacy of the RCC is as deeply ingrained in the national psyche of Catholic countries as the narrative of Empire and British Exceptionalism is into England’s.



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  • Marco

    the power of the brainwashing

    That’s how I see it too. It’s sickening to see these women and others in the world in thrall to the very organizations and ideology that intends to reduce them to mere reproductive and domestic slaves. When the sex abuse scandal broke here in Boston years ago, some Catholic women told me that they support a reform of their church. I told them it’s already been done five hundred years ago. I told them that even though I was brought up in one of those reformed churches it still wasn’t reformed enough for me so I quit. There is nobody holding a gun to our heads. Get up, walk out and take your kids with you!

    One phrase that I repeated to myself many times about the church is – You need me but I don’t need you.

    The “I don’t need you” part needs further explanation and demonstration but it takes about ten minutes to make that no-brainer case. It’s very important for our female atheists to be out so other women can understand that “I don’t need you” is true.

    When they see that female atheists are smart, good moms, have good marriages, good jobs, are good daughters and morally strong without groveling to the old men who wear lace dresses and ostentatious ridiculous hats, then the seeds of secularism will be planted.

    Advice to women: avoid control freaks.



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  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43471560

    Pope Francis: Vatican press chief resigns over doctored letter

    The head of the Vatican communications department has resigned after coming under fire for doctoring a letter sent by retired Pope Benedict XVI.

    A brief Vatican statement said Pope Francis had “accepted” the resignation of Msgr. Dario Vigano.

    It comes after the Vatican admitted blurring part of a letter about Pope Francis written by his predecessor, in a picture sent to the media.

    The tampering caused controversy amid concern over so-called “fake news”.

    Professional standards of photojournalism forbid adding or removing anything from photographs, especially manipulations that alter their meaning.
    Media outlets covering the Pope often rely on handout images from the Vatican.

    The row began after Msgr. Vigano, whose official title was prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, asked Pope Benedict XVI to write some “dense theology” to be read at a presentation event for a new series of books about Pope Francis.

    In his letter, Pope Benedict welcomed the publication of the volumes, but said he would not be able to write a reflection because he would not have time to read them.

    Msgr. Vigano read selected passages from the letter at a presentation on 12 March. Then journalists received a doctored image of the letter, which blurred out the lines where Pope Benedict explained he would not be reading the books.

    The Vatican press office has not explained why the picture of the letter was doctored. It told the Associated Press that it was never intended for full publication.

    Perhaps criticism of the present pope by his predecessor, may have something to do with it!

    While, doctoring documents, withholding evidence, and “re-writing history” to cover-up abuses, profit from fake “relics”, and to show the church and its “saints” in a more favourable light than honest historical records would indicate, – has been going on for centuries; – CAUSING THE CHURCH EMBARRASSMENT BY GETTING CAUGHT DOING SO, is a serious sin! 🙂



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  • @#21 – Cardinal George Pell has returned to an Australian court for a hearing that will determine whether he stands trial on sexual assault charges.

    So after the prevarication and denials –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-43957330

    Cardinal Pell ordered to stand trial on sexual assault charges

    Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell will stand trial on historical sexual assault charges, a court has ruled.

    Cardinal Pell formally pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

    An Australian magistrate ruled on Tuesday that there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to a trial on some charges, but not on others.

    Cardinal Pell, 76, is Australia’s most senior Catholic and one of the most powerful officials in the Vatican.

    He was given a large police guard as he entered the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in front of dozens of media representatives and members of the public.

    Cardinal Pell, who is considered the Church’s third-ranked official, took a leave of absence from the Vatican last year to fight the charges in his home country.

    Most of the evidence given remains confidential.

    But following the hearing on Tuesday, his lawyer, Robert Richter QC, argued that the most “vile” allegations against his client had been dismissed.

    Last June, police in the state of Victoria charged the senior cleric with what they described as historical charges involving “multiple complainants”.

    More than 30 witnesses testified during a preliminary court hearing, known as a committal, that ran for four weeks from March. Many sessions were closed to the public, which is standard practice in Victoria in sexual offence cases.

    Magistrate Belinda Wallington said about half of the charges had sufficient evidence to be put to a trial.

    When he entered his plea, Cardinal Pell remained seated but spoke in a loud, defiant voice with two words: “Not guilty.”

    That does not sound like an apology or repentance to me!

    And with that, it was clear that the cardinal will now face a trial before a jury.

    His appearances so far have seen dozens of cameras trail his every move in and out of court. When a trial does finally take place, the scrutiny is likely to be even more intense.

    Cardinal Pell’s trial will be held before a judge and a 12-person jury in the County Court of Victoria.

    The court will hold an administrative hearing on Wednesday, but the trial is not expected to begin for several months.



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  • john.wb #6
    Jul 2, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Several studies have found that,
    at “only” 2%, the incidence of abuse by priests in the Catholic church
    does not exceed that in the general population
    .

    Those were probably cherry picked.
    The levels of abuse varied greatly between different Catholic establishments and in different jurisdictions.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/02/7-percent-of-australian-catholic-priests-accused-of-abuse/

    7 percent of Australian Catholic priests accused of abuse



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  • Several studies have found that, at “only” 2%, the incidence of abuse
    by priests in the Catholic church does not exceed that in the general
    population.

    To be honest, I’m not sure “We’re no worse than the rest of you” is the best possible slogan for people who claim the right to preach on morality.



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  • 2% or 7% it shows that religion is not in any sense the Motherlode of Morality. At best a lie, perhaps disabling better attempts to be made. At worst a cover for many religious to gratify themselves at our expense.



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