A VERY small percentage of priests in the United States were credibly accused of sexual abuse, according to an annual report commissioned by US bishops released last April 10.

The report, written by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington and posted on the website of US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USSCB), found 23 allegations against Catholic clergy concerning abuse of a minor last year. However, only nine were considered credible by law enforcement.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, an American Catholic “anti-defamation and civil rights” organization, pointed out that there are 40,271 priests in the US based on the 2011 Official Catholic Directory. This means that 99.98% of priests in the US were “innocent.”

The report also said that 683 adults who were victims or survivors of abuse in the past came forward to report an allegation for the first time against 551 priests and seven deacons. Of the accused clerics, 253 are deceased, 58 had already been laicized or removed of clerical status, 184 have been removed from ministry, and 281 had already been named in previous audits.

The report also stated that more than $50 million was spent on settlements related to sexual abuse, a decline of almost 30 percent compared with the estimated $70 million spent in 2010. The total cost incurred by dioceses and eparchies last year, which also included therapy for victims, support for offenders, attorneys’ fees, and other costs, amounted to $108 million.

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