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From 2001 to 2010 the Holy See , the central governing body of the Catholic Church, considered sex abuse allegations involving about 3,000 priests dating back fifty years.  Cases reflect worldwide patterns of long-term abuse as well as the church hierarchy's pattern of regularly covering up reports of alleged abuse. [note 1] Diocesan officials and academics knowledgeable about the Roman Catholic Church say that sexual abuse by clergy is generally not discussed, and thus is difficult to measure.  
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.  Many of the cases span several decades and are brought forward years after the abuse occurred.
In Ireland, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a report that covered six decades (from the 1950s). It noted "endemic" sexual abuse in Catholic boys' institutions, saying that church leaders were aware of abuses and that government inspectors failed to "stop beatings, rapes and humiliation."   The commission's report on church abuse ran to five volumes.  The report noted the "centrality of poverty and social vulnerability in the lives of the victims of abuse."