News Headlines > US Catholic Church paid $4bn in abuse compensation

04 November 2015 | by Sean Smith

US Catholic Church paid $4bn in abuse compensation

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The Catholic Church in the US has paid out more than $4bn (£2.6bn), according to new research carried out by the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).

The figure, which has been collated from a number of sources, is the total payout as compensation to abuse victims and alleged abuse victims since 1950 until August this year.

Previous estimates had put the figure at closer to $3bn.

The report was carried out by Dr Jack Ruhl, a professor of accountancy at Western Michigan University, and his wife Diane Ruhl.

NCR said that their research had to rely largely on media reports, which tend to report only court cases or large settlements and in major media markets. Areas with little media coverage will be underrepresented in the results.

The fact that there is no uniform reporting standards for public disclosure of financial records for US Catholic dioceses also made the research more difficult, NCR said.



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The final figure is based on a three-month investigation of data, including a review of more than 7,800 articles on the LexisNexis Academic research database and on NCR's databases, as well as information from and from reports from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The news comes after an article in the Journal of Public Economics by two Chilean-born economists - Nicolas L. Bottan and Ricardo Perez-Truglia - that estimated that the Catholic Church in the US was also losing an average of $2.36 billion a year in charitable donations because of the abuse scandal.

After there is an abuse scandal, there is a decline both in religious participation and charitable giving," Mr Perez-Truglia told

"Say a priest allegedly committed an abuse in a parish in New Jersey, and then 10 or 20 years went by, and the priest is working on the other side of the US, maybe in California," he explained. "Then someone comes out about the abuse that happened in New Jersey.

"We basically find that there is a decline that is pretty similar size in both places. So both the community where the abuse took place and the communities where the priest was working are being affected," he said.



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