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The report noted that "It is impossible to determine from our surveys what percent of all actual cases of abuse that occurred between 19 have been reported to the Church and are therefore in our dataset." The Augustin Cardinal Bea, S. specializes in abuse counseling and is considered an expert on clerical abuse; he states "approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor." Allegations of and convictions for sexual abuse by clergy have occurred in many countries.

There are no accurate figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions.

The sexual abuse of children under the age of consent by priests has received significant media and public attention in the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany and Australia.

Cases have also been reported in other nations throughout the world.

In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim in which clergymen can be tried in a church court.

It also streamlined the processes for removing pedophile priests.

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Traditionally, the Roman Catholic Church has held tight control over many aspects of church life around the globe, including "the words used in prayer", but it left sex abuse cases to be handled locally.In 1994, allegations of sexual abuse of 47 young seminarians surfaced in Argentina.In Ireland, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a report that covered six decades (from the 1950s).But, in 2002 The Boston Globe reported, "clearly the issue has been most prominent in the United States." According to a Pew Research Center study, in 2002 the media coverage was focused on the US, where a Boston Globe series initiated widespread coverage in the region. In September 2011, a submission was lodged with the International Criminal Court alleging that the Pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (Dean of the College of Cardinals), Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Cardinal Secretary of State), and Cardinal William Levada (then-current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) had committed a crime against humanity by failing to prevent or punish perpetrators of rape and sexual violence in a "systematic and widespread" concealment which included failure to co-operate with relevant law enforcement agencies.In a statement to the Associated Press, the Vatican described this as a "ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes." Lawyers and law professors emphasized that the case is likely to fall outside the court's jurisdiction.

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