The Catholic Church has paid out close to $4 billion in the United States from being sued for the sexual abuse of minors by priests since the 1950s, a higher figure than had been previously estimated.

The report published in the National Catholic Reporter, or NCR, a newspaper for the Catholic community in the United States, raises by some $1 billion the amount of settlements for such cases previously reported in the media.

The document reached the conclusion that the exact accumulated settlements amounted to $3,994,797,060.10, as the result of a three-month review of more than 7,800 articles from the NCR's own database and that of LexisNexis Academic, as well as from analyzing information from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Figures offered by the NCR are ostensibly higher than the official statistics, due to the fact that there are no uniform reporting standards for Catholic dioceses to disclose their financial records.

NCR reports that, of the 197 dioceses registered with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, only 60 have a public report for 2014 and it is precisely in recent years that economic compensation for victims has gone through the roof, as more and more cases have been revealed.

In addition, the quality of these reports varies drastically due to cover-ups by which fewer details are given about how much money was spent and on what.

At the same time, data released after 2013 cannot be directly compared to data released before 2013 because of changing data collection methods, which the NCR considers an obstacle.