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The abused include boys and girls, some as young as 3 years old, with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14.The accusations began to receive isolated, sporadic publicity in the late 1980s.He then met with victims in Australia, Germany, Malta and the UK.In February, a report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child published a report that condemned the Church’s “code of silence” on paedophile priests.“I know that these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair,” he said.“Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction.She said: “It was important for me to explain from a survivor’s point of view that it’s important, the Church needs to change. Allegations were not reported to police and Smyth continued to abuse children before being jailed in 1994.Cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, nuns and members of religious orders, and subsequent cover-ups, in the 20th and 21st centuries have led to numerous allegations, investigations, trials and convictions.
Members of the Church's hierarchy have argued that media coverage was excessive and disproportionate, and they have also argued that such abuse also takes place in other religions and institutions.
Cases have also been reported in other nations throughout the world.
Many of the cases span several decades and are brought forward years after the abuse occurred.
However, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that the average time it took between a victim of Catholic sexual abuse being abused and reporting it, or seeking redress, is 33 years.
For this reason there is insufficient data to be able to accurately ascertain current rates of child sex abuse, or to claim that abuse in the Catholic Church has fallen in recent decades.