REUTERS - Leading cardinal Angelo Sodano, making an unusual address in defence of Pope Benedict at the start of Easter Sunday Mass, said the Church would not be intimidated by “petty gossip” about sexual abuse of children by priests.
Following are details of some of the major abuse scandals:
* IRELAND: May 2009 - The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a five-volume report - it said priests abused children for decades in Catholic-run institutions.
-- Nov. 2009 - The government-commissioned Murphy report into abuse in Dublin from 1975 to 2004 said church authorities covered up cases of child sexual abuse until the mid-1990s.
-- Feb. 2010 - Benedict held crisis talks with 24 Irish bishops at the Vatican. The bishops promised him they were committed to cooperating with authorities.
-- March 2010 - Benedict apologised to victims of child sex abuse by Irish clergy, saying he felt “shame and remorse”. He also announced a formal Vatican investigation of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders. Irish victims accused the pope of evading the question of Vatican responsibility.
-- March 24 - The pope accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, accused of mishandling reports of sexual abuse in his diocese. Four other bishops offered their resignations and the pope has so far accepted one.
* UNITED STATES: June 2002 - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to bar paedophile priests from ever again acting as clerics, but not necessarily expel them from the priesthood.
-- Feb. 2004 - Independent researchers said 10,667 people accused U.S. priests of child sex abuse from 1950 to 2002. More than 17 percent of accusers had siblings who were also abused.
-- July 2007 - Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1940s, the largest compensation deal of its kind.
-- April 2008 - Benedict met victims of abuse by priests during his visit to the United States. The U.S. church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims since 1992.
-- March 2010 - The Vatican criticised The New York Times for its coverage of the scandals. The Vatican denied any cover-up in the abuse of 200 deaf boys by Reverend Lawrence Murphy from the 1950s to 1960s after the newspaper reported he was not defrocked despite warnings sent to the Vatican and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then the church’s top doctrinal official, now Pope Benedict.
* GERMANY: More than 250 people in Germany were abused at Church-run schools in past decades. The scandal has drawn in Bavarian-born Benedict, whose brother ran a Regensburg choir for 30 years which has been linked to cases of abuse.
-- Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, Germany’s top Catholic bishop, apologised last month for mistakes he made himself in failing to report to authorities one case of suspected abuse by a priest in the Freiburg diocese nearly 20 years ago.
* SWITZERLAND: The Diocese of Chur, in eastern Switzerland, said on March 20 it was investigating around 10 complaints. The abbot of a monastery in the diocese said at least three of the 77 monks at Einsiedeln had committed acts of abuse since he took up office in Dec. 2001, but no legal action had been taken.
* NETHERLANDS: A newspaper said three priests from the Salesian order abused pupils decades ago at a boarding school near the Dutch-German border.
* AUSTRIA - A wave of reports of child sexual abuse in Austrian Catholic institutions was triggered by the resignation of the arch-abbot of Salzburg’s St Peter’s monastery in March after admitting to sexually abusing a boy 40 years ago.
* AUSTRALIA -- July 2008 - On a visit to Australia, Pope Benedict apologised for sex abuse by clergy. At that time there had been 107 convictions for abuse in the Catholic church there.
* BRITAIN - July 2000 - London Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor acknowledged making a mistake in a previous post in the 1980s by allowing a paedophile priest to continue working. The priest was jailed in 1997 for abusing nine boys.
* MEXICO - Pope Benedict ordered an inquiry into the Legionaries of Christ priestly order in March 2009 whose founder was discovered to be a sexual molester. In 2006, the pope told the founder, Father Marcial Maciel, to retire to a life of “prayer and penitence”. Maciel died in 2008. His order acknowledged in 2009 he had fathered at least one child with a mistress and formally apologised to his victims in March 2010.
Sources: Reuters/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops