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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.
The report noted that "It is impossible to determine from our surveys what percent of all actual cases of abuse that occurred between 19 have been reported to the Church and are therefore in our dataset." The Augustin Cardinal Bea, S. specializes in abuse counseling and is considered an expert on clerical abuse; he states "approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor." Allegations of and convictions for sexual abuse by clergy have occurred in many countries.
In Ireland, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a report that covered six decades (from the 1950s).
It noted "endemic" sexual abuse in Catholic boys' institutions, saying that church leaders were aware of abuses and that government inspectors failed to "stop beatings, rapes and humiliation." In January 2013, an Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was called to investigate institutional sexual abuse of minors related, but not exclusive, to matters concerning clergy of the Catholic Church.
Traditionally, the Roman Catholic Church has held tight control over many aspects of church life around the globe, including "the words used in prayer", but it left sex abuse cases to be handled locally.
In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim in which clergymen can be tried in a church court.
There are no accurate figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions.
In a series of letters and reports to high-ranking Catholic leaders starting in the 1950s, Fitzgerald warned of substantial problems with pedophile priests.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.