A report into the sexual abuse of Dutch minors by Roman Catholic priests showed that The Netherlands ranked second only to Ireland in the known extent of the scandals rocking the Church in Europe.
The following are some details of the major developments in the Roman Catholic Church scandals in Europe this year.
• 28 June: Pope Benedict rebukes Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn for accusing a senior Vatican official, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, of covering up sexual abuse cases.
• 10 August: A newspaper reports that a record 100,000 Austrians are expected to leave the Catholic Church in 2010 because of the sexual abuse scandals rocking the Church in Europe.
• 23 April: Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe resigns and goes into hiding after admitting he had sexually abused his own nephew for years.
• 24 June: Police raid Church offices and the flat of Cardinal Godfried Danneels – who stepped down as Brussels archbishop in January – and confiscate files and computers from the panel probing abuse cases. The raid occurs during a meeting of the country’s bishops, who are held by the police for nine hours. The Vatican sharply criticises the Belgian authorities for the raids.
• 8 September: Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who stepped down as Brussels archbishop in January, admits he made mistakes dealing with abuse cases. He was heavily criticised after a tape of him urging a victim to keep quiet was published.
• 10 September: A Church commission reports that widespread child sexual abuse in the Belgian Church drove at least 13 victims to suicide. Of the 475 cases it recorded, two-thirds of the victims were male, with boys aged about 12 most vulnerable.
• 22 April: Bishops in England and Wales apologise for abuse cases worldwide, saying “terrible crimes” had been committed and the Church’s response had been mostly inadequate. The local Church had a series of scandals about a decade ago but had since introduced reforms.
• 18 September: Pope Benedict makes one of his most fulsome apologies to abuse victims while on a state visit to the UK, expressing his deep sorrow to innocent victims of “these unspeakable crimes”.
• 2 February: The Jesuit order reports 25 cases of sexual abuse of pupils by priests at three boarding schools between 1975 and 1984, with most cases in Berlin.
• 9 March: Pope Benedict’s priest brother Georg admits to administering corporal punishment to members of his boys choir in Regensburg but denies this was physical abuse.
• 12 March: The Munich archdiocese says Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and archbishop of the Bavarian city, approved therapy for a paedophile priest but did not know he was later transferred to parishes where he continued to sexually abuse minors. The US media report on the matter says the future pope must have known these details about the case.
• 17 March: German Chancellor Angela Merkel demands “truth and clarity” about clerical sexual abuse but says any official inquiry should not be limited to the Catholic Church.
• 12 April: A Church report says hundreds of minors were physically abused, and some were sexually abused, at Ettal monastery school in Bavaria over several decades up until about 1990.
• 24 June: Former Augsburg Bishop Walter Mixa gives up his fight to be reinstated after resigning in April amid allegations of physical abuse of minors, homosexual advances to seminarians and misusing Church funds. Mixa accuses fellow bishops of tricking the Vatican into accepting his initial resignation.
• 31 August: The German Church unveils new, tougher guidelines on dealing with the sexual abuse of minors, obliging Church authorities to report suspected cases to police.
• 23 September: Catholic bishops agree to compensate victims of clerical sexual abuse.
• 3 December: The Munich archdiocese inquiry reports that at least 159 priests had been involved in or suspected of sexual abuse cases between 1945 and 2009 and 26 had been tried and found guilty. It says there were probably more cases that had been hushed up or the files which had been destroyed.
• 16 February: Pope Benedict holds crisis talks with 24 Irish bishops at the Vatican after two government-commissioned reports in 2009 exposed widespread physical and sexual abuse of minors in Church-run institutions and the systematic cover-up of abuse by priests by the local hierarchy.
• 20 March: In rare letter to Ireland’s Catholics, the Pope tells abuse victims he felt “shame and remorse” over the scandals and announces an official Vatican probe of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious orders.
• 24 March: Pope Benedict accepts the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, who was accused of mishandling reports of sexual abuse in his diocese. He later accepts the resignation of two other Irish bishops.
• 31 May: The Vatican names two cardinals and three archbishops from England, the United States and Canada to lead its inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland.
• 18 February: Italy has had dozens of cases of clerical sexual abuse involving about 80 priests over the past decade, a priest who runs an anti-paedophilia organisation tells Vatican Radio.
• 18 April: Pope Benedict prays and cries with eight Maltese sexual abuse victims during his first meeting with victims in Europe.
• 2 March: Dozens of Dutch Catholics have come forward to report sexual abuse by priests, encouraged by media reports of abuse by priests from the Salesian order decades ago.
• 9 March: The Dutch Church launched an independent commission to study reports of alleged sexual abuse by priests.
• 16 April: The Rotterdam diocese reported a Dutch priest to the police for alleged sexual abuse and barred him from the ministry, making him the fourth to be suspended this year.
• 26 November: The Salesian order of priests admitted paying €16,000 in hush money in 2003 to a victim of sexual abuse by seven priests between 1948 and 1953.
• 9 December: A Church-commissioned report said that 1,975 people had declared themselves victims of sexual and physical abuse while minors in the care of the Dutch Church and criticised the Church for not responding to the scandals more promptly.
• 9 April: The Church in Norway reported four cases of the sexual abuse of minors by priests and revealed that a bishop who resigned in 2009 did so after abusing an altar boy.
• 2 June: Swiss bishops said they had received reports between January and May of 72 perpetrators abusing 104 victims, up from 14 perpetrators and 15 victims in 2009.