The Catholic church is still reeling from one of the biggest child sex abuse scandals to ever rock an institution, religious or otherwise, but it appears there is still some material that they blocking the release of.
A collection of around 2,000 archives are being withheld by Catholic Church Insurance Ltd., who began to collect such information in the 1990s when reports of child sex abuse by Catholic priests were becoming more widespread. Victims are now petitioning for them to be made public to prevent future crimes, assure compensation, and end any further cover-up, reported The Age.
As the scandal began to gain traction in the media, Catholic Church Insurance Ltd. began to interview both priests who had sexually abused children and higher-ups in the church who may have assisted in covering it up. It is thought that the sexual abusers were particularly frank in these interviews as there was little risk they would ever be publicized -- though full transcripts were taken of each session.
One such type of document provided to interviewees was called a "Special Issues Incident Report." The purpose of these documents was for Catholic Church Insurance Ltd. to establish the time frame during which abuse took place. Afterward, reported The Age, these interviews could be used to avoid paying coverage.
"The dates were vital as the insurer did not have to provide coverage for crimes committed after the date church authorities had official 'knowledge' an individual was an abuser."
Jason Parkinson from Porters Lawyers, who has carried out nearly 1,000 cases against the Catholic church, says that these child sex abuse files have been guarded through a process of massive settlements to keep them under wraps. A careful shrouding of information that Parkinson believes to reek of conspiracy.
"The settlements have happened on dozens and dozens of occasions... Whenever we have been seeking documents that will assist their case against the Catholic Church, the insurance documents are never produced and whenever we get close the matters are settled. The material we are after from the insurers are the records which show who and when, which priests and brothers were sexually assaulting children... The legal exceptions to providing that information should... [not] relate to conspiracies to commit the most heinous of crimes short of manslaughter and murder – the sexual abuse of children."
Parents of Catholic Church child sex abuse victims are irate over the lack of transparency. Anthony Foster, a father of two daughters who were both raped by a priest, is outraged that there is still information being withheld. One of his daughters, Emma, later committed suicide.
"This should be made public. The whole sordid affair should be opened up. The more transparent it is the more victims will come forward. This is all about providing openness, which is the opposite of how these crimes occurred in the first place – behind closed doors."
In 2014, the Catholic Church revealed that it had defrocked 384 priests for child sex abuse in the past decade, in addition to 2,572 who were otherwise sanctioned. A total of 3,402 cases were reported to the Holy See during that time period, reported CBS News.
At one point, estimates indicated that around 4 percent of the Catholic Church's priests in the U.S. from 1950 to 2002 had been accused of the sexual abuse of a minor, reported The Guardian.
[Image via Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images]