Timeline International


How The Story Of Abuse In Catholic Church Institutions Emerged Around The World


The first case of clerical child sex abuse to go public: Fr Gilbert Gauthé in Louisiana, in the US, is revealed as a serial paedophile.


Fr Tom Doyle, a US canon law expert, warns of dire consequences if scandal is not dealt with openly and effectively. He is ignored and removed from his position in the Vatican embassy in Washington.


Pope John Paul II writes to US bishops: "I share your sadness and disappointment." But he points out that the child sex abuse problem concerns only a small group of priests.

His spokesman, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, sums up the Vatican attitude: "One would

have to ask if the real culprit is not a society that is irresponsibly permissive, hyperinflated with sexuality and capable of creating circumstances that induce even people who have received a sound moral formation to commit grave immoral acts." Canadian bishop Hubert O'Connor resigns after being convicted of molesting teenagers at a boarding school.


Austrian cardinal Hans Herman Groer resigns as head of the Austrian Catholic Church amidst allegations he sexually abused boys. He remains archbishop of Vienna.

Two German Catholic bishops investigated for covering up clerical child abuse.


Australian bishop Ronald Mulkearns resigns after failing to act against a priest later convicted of child abuse.

Catholic diocese of Dallas, Texas, ordered to pay $118 million to victims of Fr Rudy Kos.

It is the largest ever child sex abuse settlement. The diocese was held to have covered up Kos's abuse.


UK cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (right) rejects calls for his resignation over his handling of Fr Michael Hill, who received a five-year jail sentence for child sex abuse.


French bishop Pierre Pican on trial for failure to report his knowledge of sex abuse crimes by a priest against children.

He receives a three-month suspended sentence. Reports to the Vatican of widespread sexual abuse of nuns by priests throughout Africa.

No response from the Vatican.

Archbishop of Cardiff Dr John Aloysius Ward resigns in the midst of controversy over his handling of paedophile priests.


JAN/FEB- Clerical child sex abuse scandal explodes in US with release of thousands of documents implicating Cardinal Bernard Law (left) of Boston in a major cover-up.

MARCH- Archbishop Juliusz Paetz resigns over allegations of improper behaviour with trainee priests.

APRIL- US cardinals summoned to Rome by pope as their child sex abuse crisis spreads nationwide.

JUNE- Third US bishop resigns over abuse allegations. Bishop of Lexington Kentucky Kendrick Williams joins bishops Anthony O'Connell (an Irishman) and Rembert Weakland, both forced to resign earlier in 2002.

OCTOBER- Archbishop Edgardo Storni of Argentina resigns amid allegations he sexually abused seminarians.

DECEMBER- Boston cardinal Bernard Law resigns over evidence of cover-up.


JUNE - Ex-Governor of Oklahoma Frank Keating resigns as head of US Catholic Church sex abuse oversight panel after comparing some bishops to the Mafia.


FEBRUARY- Report finds 10,600 children abused by US priests since 1950.

JULY- Diocese of Portland is first in world to file for bankruptcy in the face of compensation claims from clerical child abuse victims.


APRIL- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger becomes Pope Benedict XVI, following death of John Paul II


JULY- Pope apologises for clerical abuse scandal in Australia.


SEPTEMBER- Canadian bishop Raymond Lahey resigns after his arrest for distributing and selling child pornography.