Many films recently have chronicled the problem the Roman Catholic Church has had for decades, including Deliver Us From Evil and Spotlight. Now, research on exactly how much the Catholic Church has paid out in lawsuits is causing new shockwaves.

Since 1950, the Vatican has spent $3,994,797,060.10 in lawsuits relating to child molestation, according to Jack and Diane Ruhl of the National Catholic Reporter. While the Ruhls’s research on the subject only dates back to 1950, in the time since that date alone the Vatican has been forced to spend nearly $4 billion because of alleged and actual child molestation. Many have wondered whether that $4 billion number might even be a bit conservative estimate, as it’s impossible to know whether additional “under the table” settlements have been reached.

The researchers calculated their $4 billion figure based on a three-month investigation of data, which includes a review of over 7,800 articles from LexisNexis Academic and NCR databases and information from BishopAccountability.org. Reports from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops were also used. 

The Catholic Church has 197 U.S. dioces, or regional administrators. If the amount of money paid for child molestation settlements and judgments was divided evenly amongst each of the U.S.’s 197 dioceses, each one would have spent almost $20 million.  This is a shocking amount of money – likely given to the Church from their hard working supporters to spread the good faith and intentions of the Church — instead used to not only pay off the parents of little boys that were sexually abused, but to help cover up the shocking pedophilia and child molestation crimes committed by priests.

The New Yorker has reported that in the early nineties, a monk who worked at the Vatican admitted to them, “You wouldn’t believe the amounts of money the church is spending to settle these priestly sexual-abuse cases.” By 1992, U.S. Catholic dioceses had already spent $400 million dollars to settle hundreds of child molestation cases. The amount was an astronomical number at that time, and makes clear that the men running the Vatican must have been well aware of the pedophile problem in their ranks, while they often refused to help law enforcement bring pedophiles to justice.

Pope Francis has addressed the issue by telling hundreds of bishops in 2015:

“I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you, and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims — in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed — and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.”

Terry McKiernan, who runs BishopAccountability.org, has reported that Pope Francis still overlooks the fact that many dioceses around the country haven’t disclosed the names of abusive pedophiles to law enforcement, and adds that the Catholic Church in fact continues to lobby against reforming statute of limitations laws that shield priests from prosecution for crimes from the past.

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, once was optimistic that Francis would push for change in how the Church handled the scandal, but now has lost hope. “There’s nothing he could say that would be helpful, because Catholic bishops have said it all before — ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t know, we’ll do better.’ We’ve heard that for decades,” said Clohessy. “This is a pope who has refused to take steps to expose one predator or punish one enabler. . . . He could simply defrock, demote, discipline, or even clearly denounce just one complicit bishop. He refuses, not one.”

Sources: LA Times NCR Online Patheos Collective Evolution

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