New study shows abuse rates of Catholic priests even higher than expected

As if the reports and suspicions weren’t bad enough, the reality points to a  problem even more pervasive than people thought. I’m going to quote from the childprotectionguide.org website, with some added thoughts of my own in italics along the way. (The article I’m linking to here has the source information for this study.)

“About 4 percent of Catholic priests have been accused of sexually abusing minors over the past half-century, according to a draft of the first comprehensive study of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the United States. The percentage is higher than many people, including church officials, had anticipated.

“The draft of the study, done by John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, found that 4,450 of the 110,000 priests who served between 1950 and 2002 were accused of sexual abuse of minors, according to CNN, which reported that it had reviewed the draft.

“The number of alleged perpetrators given in the draft study is higher than the tallies by news media outlets, including the Associated Press and The New York Times, which have tried to count reported allegations nationwide.

“The number is also higher than that projected by church officials. Pope Benedict XVI, who at the time was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said in 2002, according to the Catholic News Service: “In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1 percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type.”

“The annual accusation rate against Catholic priests peaked at nearly 9 per 1,000 in 1980. However, since the reports, Table 1.1, are generally made after the victims become adults, with most of the reports coming after 1990, this could mean that abuse that occurred in the late eighties and in the nineties has just not yet been reported.”  (In other words, we may not be hearing the last of this … we may be coming up to another rash of abuse reports and lawsuits — a second wave.)

“Roughly 1/4 of the pedophile priests abused girls, although they have gotten less attention. In fact, both SAVE and SNAP were founded by women who were sexually abused by Catholic priests as young girls.”

“It’s not just Catholic priests. There have been offenders who were spiritual leaders of many various groups, as diverse as Buddhist monks and Jewish rabbis. According to reformation.com 838 ministers from major Protestant denominations have sexually assaulted children. The website quotes the Right Reverend William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago as saying “We would be naïve and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behavior know no ecclesial or other boundaries.'”

3 thoughts on “New study shows abuse rates of Catholic priests even higher than expected”

  1. This post was very nicely prepared, and it also includes many useful points. I valued your professional manner of writing this post. You have created it is easy for me to understand.

  2. Thanks Andrew! I appreciate the feedback. This is a tough subject to face … but we’ve seen the horror that emerges when churches don’t face the truth. Even though I am a pastor, I am finding myself increasingly frustrated with the “let’s not talk about this” mindset of some Christians with respect to things that make the church look bad. The truth will set you free, Jesus said. I really believe that, even in situations where it makes you really uncomfortable at first.

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