Creative reporting
about the Vatican and sex abuse seems to have been reduced to a single obsession:
find a document about an abusive priest with Joseph Ratzinger’s signature on it.
However, Pat Wingert, at Newsweek, had the bright idea of asking insurance
companies
whether premiums for indemnity against sex abuse were higher for
Catholic institutions. Arguments can be deceitful; statistics can be
manipulated; but no one is going to monkey with insurance risk. “We don’t see vast difference in the incidence rate between one
denomination and another,” says an insurer. “It’s pretty even across
the denominations.” This is a very telling insight.

Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies
have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and
their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than
other congregations. Insurance companies that cover all denominations, such as
Guide One Center for Risk Management, which has more than 40,000 church
clients, does not charge Catholic churches higher premiums. “We don’t see
vast difference in the incidence rate between one denomination and
another,” says Sarah Buckley, assistant vice president of corporate
communications. “It’s pretty even across the denominations.” It’s
been that way for decades.

While the company saw an uptick in these
claims by all types of churches around the time of the 2002 U.S. Catholic
sex-abuse scandal, Eric Spacick, Guide One’s senior church-risk manager, says
“it’s been pretty steady since.” On average, the company says 80
percent of the sexual misconduct claims they get from all denominations involve
sexual abuse of children. As a result, the more children’s programs a church
has, the more expensive its insurance, officials at Guide One said.

 

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.