An investigation by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has found that 7 percent of Australia’s Catholic priests have been accused of child abuse between 1950 and 2010.
Of the testimonies that the commission has heard, 4,440 people have come forward with claims of abuse by members of the church between 1980 and 2015. The lead lawyer for the commission said that more than 1,000 individual Catholic churches and 1,880 individual clergymen were named in the claims.
Authorities say the claims all seemed to be pretty similar. The average age for girls was 10.5 and 11.5 for boys. It took the victims an average of 33 years to report their abuse.
“Children were ignored or worse, punished,” Gail Furness, the commission’s lead lawyer told the BBC. “Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious [figures] were moved. The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past.”
The commission also released a breakdown of specific religious institutions and one of them, St. John of God Brothers, singlehandedly accounted for 40 percent of the complaints.
Furness said that of the investigations being made against institutions, religious and not, about 60 percent of abuse victims suffered abuse at the hands of faith-based organizations and that two-thirds of the faith-based abuse were from Catholic Church members.
“These numbers are shocking, they are tragic and they are indefensible,” Frances Sullivan, the chief executive of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council said. “As Catholics, we hang our heads in shame.”
The commission’s final report will come out at the end of the year.