Child abuse: Catholic Church scandal timeline

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Key events relating to child abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church over the past year:

- November 26, 2009: In Ireland, the report of a public inquiry reveals cases of sexual abuse against hundreds of children, committed by clergy over several decades.

- January 28, 2010: The rector of a Jesuit college in Berlin acknowledges that children were abused there in the 1970s and 80s. Other cases emerge in German establishments.

- March 1: In the Netherlands, a Catholic order opens an inquiry into abuse committed against childen in a school in Arnhem in the 1960s. In August, a Dutch church report mentions a total of 1,600 cases around the country.

- March 5: Among other revelations in Germany, it emerges that at least two cases of sexual abuse occurred in the 1960s in a school choir that was headed at the time by the brother of Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI.

- March 16: The Vatican acknowledges that allegations of child abuse have been made against priests in Brazil. Over the following weeks, several scandals emerge in that country.

- March 20: In a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict expresses his shame at abuse scandals, and accuses the country's clergy of a "breakdown of trust."

- March 25: A New York Times report says that the current pope had in the past turned a blind eye to reports that a priest had abused some 200 deaf children at a school in the US state of Wisconsin.

- April 23: In the Belgian city of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe becomes the first Catholic bishop to resign for having himself sexually abused a child, his nephew.

- June 2: The Conference of Bishops in Switzerland says that 104 people have filed allegations of child abuse by clergy in that country since the start of the year.

- June 23: The Austrian Catholic Church sets up a compensation fund for victims of sexual abuse and other forms of mistreatment by clergy. At least 200 cases have come to light in the country since March.

- July 15: The Vatican announces tougher church rules to combat child abuse cases.

- Sept 10: The Belgian Catholic Church reveals an avalanche of abuse cases, including 13 which led to suicides.

© 2010 AFP

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