It also streamlined the processes for removing pedophile priests.According to a 2004 research study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 4,392 Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 19 have been plausibly (neither withdrawn nor disproven) accused by 10,667 individuals of the sexual abuse of a youth under the age of 18.Estimating the number of priests and deacons active in the same period at 110,000, the report concluded that approximately 4% have faced these allegations.
There area no accurate figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions.
But, in 2002 The Boston Globe reported, "clearly the issue has been most prominent in the United States." According to a Pew Research Center study, in 2002 the media coverage was focused on the US, where a Boston Globe series initiated widespread coverage in the region. In September 2011, a submission was lodged with the International Criminal Court alleging that the Pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (Dean of the College of Cardinals), Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Cardinal Secretary of State), and Cardinal William Levada (then-current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) had committed a crime against humanity by failing to prevent or punish perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in a "systematic and widespread" concealment which included failure to co-operate with relevant law enforcement agencies.
Although nationwide inquiries have been conducted only in the United States and Ireland, also an Australian inquiry into institutional responses, cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors have been reported and prosecuted in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other countries.
In 1994, allegations of sexual abuse of 47 young seminarians surfaced in Argentina.
Of the Catholic sexual abuse cases in Latin America, the most widely known is the sexual scandal of Father Marcial Maciel, the leader of the Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic congregation made up of priests and seminarians studying for the priesthood.
This may be due in part to the more hierarchical structure of the Church in Third World countries, the "psychological health" of clergy in those regions, and because Third World media, legal systems and public culture are not as apt to thoroughly discuss sexual abuse.
In addition, the studies claim that the rate of abuse by priests had fallen sharply in the last twenty to thirty years, and that some 75% of the cases in the United States occurred between 19.
The sexual abuse of children under the age of consent by priests has received significant media and public attention in the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany and Australia.
Cases have also been reported in other nations throughout the world.
Many of the cases span several decades and are brought forward years after the abuse occurred.
The accusations began to receive wide publicity in the late 1980s.