(Reuters) - Following are some sexual abuse scandals that have affected the Roman Catholic Church in Europe and the United States.
Church officials say charges of sexual abuse of minors have been made against about 1.5 percent both of the worldwide priest population and of that in the United States.
AUSTRIA - 1995 - The archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, was forced to retire after allegations that he had molested a schoolboy 20 years earlier.
- July 2004 - Austrian News magazine Profil ran pictures of priests kissing and groping seminarians studying for the priesthood at a Roman Catholic seminary in the St. Poelten diocese.
BRITAIN - July 2000 - The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Cormac Murphy-O‘Connor, acknowledged he had made a mistake while in a previous post in the 1980s by allowing a pedophile to continue working as a priest. The priest at the center of the controversy, Father Michael Hill, was jailed in 1997 for abusing nine boys over a 20-year period.
FRANCE - March 2000 - A court sentenced Abbot Jean-Lucien Maurel to 10 years in prison for raping and sexually abusing three boys. The assaults dated to 1994-96, when Maurel was head of a school in the southern French department of Aveyron.
IRELAND - April 2002 - Brendan Comiskey, one of Ireland’s best-known priests, resigned as Bishop of Ferns over the way he had dealt with allegations of sexual abuse against a priest of his diocese, Father Sean Fortune. Fortune committed suicide in 1999 while facing 66 charges of sexual abuse.
POLAND - March 2002 - Archbishop Juliusz Paetz quit following accusations, which he denied, of sexually molesting young priests.
THE UNITED STATES - December 2002 - Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law, the most senior Roman Catholic official in the United States, resigned over his handling of clergy sexual abuse.
- June 2002 - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops directed each diocese to promptly investigate all allegations of sexual abuse. “When even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accordance with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants,” the bishops said.
- September 2003 - Boston Archdiocese agreed to pay up to $85 million to settle lawsuits filed by hundreds of people who say they were sexually abused by clergy.
- February 2004 - Independent researchers commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a report on alleged priestly sexual abuse of children in the United States.
The report said:
* A total of 10,667 people accused priests of child sexual abuse from 1950 through 2002.
* More than 17 percent of accusers had siblings who were also allegedly abused. Among accusers, 46.9 percent said they had been abused numerous times.
- In May 2004, Pope John Paul told bishops in the United States to clean up seminaries so that future priests would live by the rules.
In December 2004, Archbishop Harry Joseph Flynn of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, assured Pope John Paul that U.S. bishops were struggling “to restore the integrity of the priesthood and to provide adequate safeguards against those who would sadly misuse their sacred office.”
- In a speech delivered shortly before he was elected pope, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said the Church had to clean out the “filth” in its ranks.
- In July 2007, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating as far as the 1940s in the largest compensation deal of its kind.
Sources: Reuters/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Writing by David Cutler and Paul Grant; Editing by Bill Trott