The US Roman Catholic church paid out $436 million in 2008 for sex abuse cases involving clergy members, showed an official report aimed at healing deep wounds of the scandal that blew up in 2002.
The bulk of the money more than $374 million was paid out in settlements to victims, according to the report that tracks how well the church is implementing a charter to protect children.
The sums paid out in settlement had fallen 29 per cent compared with the record $526 million paid in 2007, the report showed.
Around $22 million went to therapy for victims or support for accused offenders last year, showed the report, commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for the past six years.
While costs to the church related to the sex abuse scandal fell across the board, the number of new allegations and victims both rose by 16 per cent, however.
The report showed that 803 new allegations of abuse over half of which were from children were lodged last year, compared with 692 in 2007.
Just over half of the new allegations involved abuse cases that were said by the accusers to have occurred or begun between 1960 and 1974. Most of the alleged perpetrators are either dead or no longer in ministry.