Priestly Sex Abuse: Get the Facts Straight

Last week on this blog, someone threw a grenade in the combox.  It was one of those unsubstantiated rants, something like, “The Catholic Church should take care of its own business.  Priests abuse children with much greater frequency than people in other helping professions (teachers, ministers, etc.)”

It was blatantly untrue, and I called the writer out on it.  The incident reminded me, though, just how much some people still take at face value the untruths and misstatements that are thrown around regarding the Catholic priesthood.

In the January/February issue of Catalyst, the newsletter of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, I found a most helpful fact sheet on priestly sexual abuse.  I’m reprinting that information here, for the benefit of my readers.  I encourage you to visit the website of the Catholic League, to learn more about their work and their public witness on behalf of the Church.

 Facts About Priestly Sexual Abuse

Now that Pope Francis has set up a commission to study priestly sexual abuse, Bill Donohue urged reporters to get their facts straight:

Myth: Children have been the main victims of priestly sexual abuse.

Fact: Since more than 95 percent of all the victims of priestly sexual abuse, as reported by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, are not prepubescent, that means that adolescents have been the primary victims.

Myth: Pedophile priests have been the problem.

Fact: Homosexual priests have been the problem. Proof: 81 percent of the victims have been male, and more than 95 percent have been postpubescent. When males have sex with postpubescent males, it is called homosexuality.

Myth: The problem is on-going.

Fact: The homosexual scandal took place mostly between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. In the last ten years, the average number of credible accusations made against 40,000 priests is in the single digits.

Myth: The Church’s repressive teachings on sexuality are the problem.

Fact: It was liberals outside the Church who pushed for the sexual revolution, and it was liberals in the Church who abetted the revolution in the seminaries. Moreover, it was liberals who promoted therapy as the way to deal with molesters, instead of using punitive measures.

Myth: The Church has done nothing about the problem.

Fact: Pope Benedict XVI made it more difficult for active homosexual priests to enter the priesthood, thus getting directly to the source of the problem. Also, steps have been taken in every diocese to ensure that anyone who works for the Church must participate in a training program aimed at curtailing the abuse of minors.

  • Michael Jeter

    To differentiate between adolescents and children is cowardly. The bottom line is that the majority of victims were minors and all the abusers were adults.

    • Susan Loniewski

      There’s more to it than just that, Michael. This abuse is absolutely evil but let’s call it for what it really is. Homosexuals going after young men.

      • Larry Livermore

        Susan, are you seriously suggesting that heterosexuals never “go after” young women? How is that any more or less abusive?

      • Michael Jeter

        No, let’s call it a criminally prosecutable crime in which adults abuse minors.

        “Young men” is a relative term and not recognized by the legal authorities. “Homosexuality” is not an offense prosecutable by legal authorities, and in itself, is not a problem for the Catholic Church(“active” homosexuality is; a homosexual, like a unmarried heterosexual who practices celibacy commits no sin or crime).

        However, any adult who abuses anyone under the age of consent commits both a sin and a crime against secular society, ergo, a prosecutable offense.

        • JohnWValentine1

          Ninty percent are homosexual. Read “Goodbye, Good Men.” It is well worth the read for anyone who is interested in this subject.

          • Michael Jeter

            I did not comment on whether they were or were not homosexual.

            I want them punished for crimes.

          • JohnWValentine1

            Fine, but the crimes are homosexual in nature. We are left asking why they are largely homosexual. Why do male priests go after altar boys, etc. Why have we not heard of them going after altar girls, or other little girls. Why are they attracted to boys, to men? I think it’s a valid question. They come into contact with young ladies, little girls. Why are little girls not being abused like little boys, like young men? There is a reason!

          • Michael Jeter

            The boys are easier targets. Most of the attacks took place before female altar servers. Most of the attack took place during a time when parents would think nothing of letting their sons spend time with priests, although I doubt there was ever a time when parents would be comfortable with their daughters spending the night with priests.

            Whether or not the attackers were confirmed homosexual is irrelevant as there are both celibate homosexuals and homosexuals who, while no celibate, are not active with people below the age of consent.

          • JohnWValentine1

            They are homo-or bi-sexual by definition, they prey on boys.

          • $94589199

            How can you even say this with a straight face…? What is wrong with you?

            Even by that appalling, pathetic, evil little rationalization reposted above, there were clearly female victims of sex abuse at the hands of a priest. I know. I was one of them.

            But you can’t allow me to exist because it upsets your sick little fantasy in which the sex abuse never happened, it was all part of the big gay agenda and had nothing to do with the Catholic Church.

            There are hundreds of female victims of rape and molestation at the hands of priests. Hundreds.

            Don’t believe everything that foul creep, Bill Donohue, or his equally evil minions, like Ms. Schiffer, tell you.

          • JohnWValentine1

            There might have been, and indeed you claim to be one, how old were you. Priests have for centuries kept secret wives, visited whores, and taken advantage of women. But the numbers, whatever they are, don’t seem to compare. Please if you have verifyable documentation cite it.

            Protestant Clergy Abuse Equals or Exceeds Catholic Clergy Abuse
            Posted on June 20, 2008 by dannimoss
            By Bob Allen

            The Associated Press reported recently that three insurance companies receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by Protestant clergy, challenging the assumption that clergy sexual abuse is an exclusively Catholic problem that does not take place in other churches.

            That is a higher number than the annual average of 228 “credible accusations” brought against Catholic clerics in records reported by the Catholic Church in response to media scrutiny, a priest observed in a Fox News commentary questioning why the story isn’t garnering more attention.

            While the report about abuse in Protestant churches doesn’t absolve guilty Catholic priests or those who enabled them, said Father Jonathan Morris, it offers a more complete picture. “The problem of sexual abuse has no denominational boundaries,” he wrote.
            I would agree, men are men,women are women, and both desire sex. I don’t excuse a person who takes part in the sexual abuse, who commits such a crime, and sin. But it’s a discussion for another day.

          • Michael Jeter

            I’m unclear.

            WHAT is a discussion for another day? The discussion is the abuse of children, including adolescents, by adults.

            The discussion of denomination and sexual orientation is irrelevant, and in fact, every time I hear a fellow Catholic say “Well, our numbers are bad, but they weren’t as bad as these other folks,” I first want to puke, then I want to do terrible violence to the coward who would stand behind such statistics.

            If a year goes by, and every other denomination and/or religion has millions victims of child molestation(adults preying on people under the age of 18, in my book) and there is only one such victim within Catholicism, the sin of the Catholic is greater BECAUSE we claim to be better.

            If one enters the priesthood, whether one is straight or gay, one takes on a vow of celibacy – no sex with man, woman, beast, or,actually, self. If one cannot live up to this standard, one needs to reconsider the priesthood.

            IF one fails to live up to one’s vows by molesting children of either gender, one does not need to reconsider the priesthood.

            One needs to be questioned by civil authorities. If they find that the charges have merit, the accused needs to be tried.

            Further, any bishop who covers up such crimes needs to be questioned by civil authorities and if these authorities find merit in the charge of conspiracy/cover – up, they, too need to be tried.

            And yes, I say this as a Catholic.

          • JohnWValentine1

            Michael Jeter I’m standing in front of them. I was answering another person. “I first want to puke, then I want to do terrible violence to the coward who would stand behind such statistics. I don’t want to trouble you anymore. I’ll stand by my comments and say goodby to you..

          • Michael Jeter

            I’ll respect your good bye, and apologize for a comment that hurt you personally.

            I am sorry, sir.

          • Guest

            There “might have been”…? I “claim” to be one? And then you imply I was actually a teenage “whore” kept by a priest…?

            I was 8, you disgusting animal. What are YOU covering up and making excuses for…?

            I’m going to see to it that YOU are investigated for whatever the hell it is YOU are up to that you so desperately need to make raping little girls NOT a crime, you sick freak.

          • Guest

            And I’m also going to be contacting St. Linus and the diocese responsible for overseeing that parish. It is clear as day that, should any young girl report sex abuse at the hands of clergy, Ms. Schiffer will not find the report “credible”, will blame the victim and will sweep the incident under the rug, like so many of her sort have done in the past.

            People who promote the notion that there wasn’t a sex abuse crisis because it was really just a “gay thing” and that most reports are not credible because they don’t fit that narrative need to be kept away from children.

          • JohnWValentine1

            I am not a disgusting animal, and I feel very sorry for even 1 minor who was arrested. I’ll reprint the quote from me that I think offended you. ” Priests have for centuries kept secret wives, visited whores, and taken advantage of women. But the numbers, whatever they are, don’t seem to compare.”

            Here’s a breakdown:

            1-7-year-old boys: 207
            1-7-year-old girls: 283
            8-10-year-old boys: 992 1199 total
            8-10-year-old girls: 398 681 total
            11-14-year-old boys: 4282 5492 total
            11-14-year-old girls: 734 1413 total
            15-17-year-old boys: 2892 8334 total
            15-17-year-old girls : 505 1918 total

            http://www.usccb.org/issues-an

            (see chart on page 11)

            The pain I cannot begin to calculate of even one child in this group. In the following post you say you are going to contact the Parish and the Diocese. By all means do contact them. And if you don’t get any satisfaction from them contact the Police.

          • JohnWValentine1

            I thank Dan13 for the statistics from the chart.

          • Dan13

            I’m sorry. I don’t understand the “circle the wagons and blame the victims mentality” myself.

            I hate the spinning of the Jay Report. The majority of victims were 14 or younger (just over half from 11-14) and about 1/5 were girls. It’s only by classifying 11-14-year-olds as “young adults” do they justify their assertions that the majority of victims were “young men.”

            Here’s a breakdown:

            1-7-year-old boys: 207
            1-7-year-old girls: 283
            8-10-year-old boys: 992
            8-10-year-old girls: 398
            11-14-year-old boys: 4282
            11-14-year-old girls: 734
            15-17-year-old boys: 2892
            15-17-year-old girls : 505

            http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/The-Causes-and-Context-of-Sexual-Abuse-of-Minors-by-Catholic-Priests-in-the-United-States-1950-2010.pdf

            (see chart on page 11)

          • neil allen

            Can you read? Even a little? It very clearly says 81% raped boys, so 19% raped girls.

            Get someone to read it to you. That’s 834 priests raping girls. Don’t try to do the math – get someone else to do it for you.

          • JohnWValentine1

            You don’t know if it was 834 priests or not. You stated in a previous post “…he went to another priest in confession, and that priest let him go, free to rape other children.” So, does (and I don’t know how you know this) this priest rape OR 1 MORE children or not. States maintain that there are women who abort more than one children. My State of Pennslyvania maintains that nearly 50% of abortions are repeat abortion. I just offer this as an example of how stats can be manipulated.
            Oh, and I appreciate you’re attention to spelling. Keep up the good work.

          • neil allen

            Abortion has nothing to do with it, but good distraction, just like the child rape crimes have nothing to do with “homosexuality”. It was child rape.
            It was 19% of the 4,392 that they admitted (and hid). That’s 834. It was more, and we both know it, but you didn’t seek the truth. You find out when you die, and your eternity will be based on it. You don’t have much time.
            Your state of Pennsylvania has one of the most powerful Catholic pedophile protection programs in the world, but you know that. The victims do not forgive you.

          • JohnWValentine1

            Abortion has nothing to do with pedophilia; I drew no connection. The repeat abortion rate has everything to do with the repeat pedophilia rate if you open your eyes and mind you will see that. I don’t know that Pennsylvania has powerful Catholic pedophile protection program. I do know
            that Phiadelphia has been questioned, extensively about hiding pedopholia. I’m waiting to hear more about that, not jumping to conclusions. I live across state. Ihad to turn in paperwork for a simple volunteer to work in a food pantry. I’m not looking for forgiveness from you or anyone else.

            In response to you’re statement: “just like the child rape crimes have nothing to do with ‘homosexuality’. It was child rape” 81% of the cases are homosexual, that’s 4 out of five. By definition they are homosxual. The other 19%, 1 out of 5, of these hurting ex-children were heterosexual I don’t deny that, But 4 out of 5 were homosexual. You seem to have a problem with that.

          • neil allen

            I have a problem with the concept that the emphasis is “homosexual” (which most priests are), and not what this really was:
            - organized
            - homosexual
            - child
            - rape
            It was 4 things. Catholics emphasize the homosexuality of their priests, but the fact that

            - it was rape
            - it was rape of children
            - it was organized crime and hidden everywhere by the Catholic church
            are 3 things that are more evil than homosexuality. I don’t care that your best leaders are homosexuals, and are hypocritical. Jesus never said anything, ever, about homosexuality
            I care that they got away with an organized crime syndicate of child rape, in the name of their dark lord.
            I am also offended that they lie about being God’s church, since God’s church could NEVER have committed such organized evil.

          • JohnWValentine1

            Ho’mosex’ual. Neil the only person who is emphasizing-is you. There is a good book, called Good Bye, Good Men. I’d suggest that you read it. I can see that you are very confused about God, and His Church. But at this point we’re going around in circles. I wish you well in getting to the truth. But I can’t help you any more.

          • neil allen

            Stop lying for your lord. In the myths above, #2 and 3 emphasize homosexuality.

            I certainly will not spend 4 hours reading a book because you said it was good. You lied in this very post.
            I am not confused at all about God’s church. God’s church could not have committed organized child rape. Jesus said so in Matt 18:6-14.

            You have been warned, and will not be forgiven, and will meet your judgment soon enough.

          • JohnWValentine1

            Neil, I will pray for you, you have a very troubled soul.
            This conversation is ended.

          • neil allen

            Don’t pray to satan for me. God is on the side of the victims, and you are on the side of the pedophiles and those who make excuses for them. You will not be forgiven. Matt 18:6

          • neil allen

            That’s a lie, although in your defense, you spelled ninty wrong, so you may just be illiterate. It very clearly says 81%. Get someone to read it to you.

      • neil allen

        Susan, you’re lying.
        You are ignoring the 834 priests that raped underage girls. That’s 834 that you are ignoring, in the US alone, and most raped more than 1 little girl. God may ask you about that.
        P.S. If God asks, its good to know that Jesus never, ever said anything about homosexuality.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      That is correct but it does not get to the heart of the solution. By understanding the statistics we now know why the problem was caused and we can take steps at solving it. Actually we have taken steps and the solutions per the results of the last ten years seem to have worked.

  • Ryan
  • Larry Livermore

    There is a difference between children and adolescents, but that’s not
    the point. A priest molesting teenage boys does not equal
    “homosexuality” anymore than a priest molesting teenage girls equals
    “heterosexuality.” The vast majority of homosexuals AND heterosexuals go through their lives
    without ever using their position and power to force unwanted sexual
    attention on vulnerable adolescents.

    The problem within the Church was not that homosexuals were allowed to be priests (unless you’re determined to believe, presumably without any supporting evidence, that homosexuals are less capable of remaining celibate than heterosexuals), it’s that when abuse did occur, it was covered up and allowed to continue, sometimes for decades. Which, as I’m sure you’re aware, Kathy, is exactly what happened at our school, where one rogue priest was able to mar the lives of dozens of young male students.

    The problem with that priest was not his sexual orientation, it was his moral character. Do you suppose he would have behaved any differently if he had been attracted to young female students instead? There is an openly gay priest at my church who leads a celibate life and is accepted and loved by even the most conservative and traditional parishioners, leading me to believe that the true culprit behind much of the abuse occurring in the Church in years past was not so much sexuality, but secrecy.

    • TapestryGarden

      Please do not ignore the reality that the vast majority of abusing priests abused MALES.. Men who suffer from Same Sex Attraction are hardly likely to prey upon females. These men clearly were sexually attracted to males, not females. Thus how can you claim they were not homosexual? Read the Jay Report, review the cases. I did. The vast majority of Priests preyed upon adolescent males. Quit trying to couch the reality in some politically correct vapor. The issue was homosexuals. Agree they were homosexuals without good moral character but the fact is that looking the other way, pretending that male Priests could not be homosexual allowed them to be returned to a Parish after “counseling” or after claiming they would no longer offend. If you are familiar with therapy that attempts to turn one’s sexual orientation from same sex to opposite sex, you would understand that this is not something that could be ‘counseled” out of the person. That homosexuality was not recognized, talked about or addressed was a major reason this problem continued for decades. Had the real issue been addressed, these Priest could have been removed early on and not allowed to abused year after year.

      Also statistically speaking the incidence of predatory behavior is greater in the homosexual population than in the heterosexual population. If you are Catholic you understand the term “disordered” as applied to homosexuals. This disorder does not exist in a vacuum. Someone who refuses to accept their gender which is determined right down to the XY chromosomes, has issues other than what he wants to do with his genitals. There are mental illnesses, addictions and other self destructive behavior seen at a greater incidence among homosexuals.

      This doesn’t mean those with Same Sex Attraction should not be treated with anything other than the love and respect due to all children of God. But don’t pretend they are “just like everyone else…” They are not.

    • neil allen

      The problem was bigger than that.
      The problem was that after a priest raped a child, he went to another priest in confession, and that priest let him go, free to rape other children, in absolute defiance of what Jesus said in Matt 18:6.
      And it happened hundreds of thousands of times.

      • JohnWValentine1

        How do you know he went to confession, how do you know he confessed that sin

        • neil allen

          Good comeback. Play the fool.

        • Ma Hester

          Google 617-Patrick, and you’ll find the real identity of “Neil Allen” — Patrick O’Malley, self-proclaimed ‘social media expert’ and consultant. I advise you to ask his clients how he knows that. Also, ask his clients why they support someone who says that all catholics are liars, all catholics are being raped in hell for all eternity, on and on.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Exactly! The Church has taken the proper measures and should start actively and forcably challenging all the claims that keep getting made.

  • Dan13

    Ms. Schiffer, you should look through the Jay report yourself instead of taking someone else’s word for it.

    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/The-Causes-and-Context-of-Sexual-Abuse-of-Minors-by-Catholic-Priests-in-the-United-States-1950-2010.pdf

    According to the report:

    (1) Priests who had had same-sex sexual relationships before entering the seminary or in the seminary were not significantly more likely to be abusers (although they were more likely to have consensual relationships with other adults) (page 4)

    (2) 44 % of the abusers in the study were ordained before 1960. (page 3)

    (3) Most were not clinically diagnosed as pedophiles (fewer than 5 percent) (page 3).

    (4) Those who were more likely to abuse either were victims of abuses themselves. lacked social bonds, or were raised in family where sex was viewed negatively or not at all. (page 4)

    (5) The plurality of victims were boys between 11 and 14 (40%). About half (51%) were from 11 to 14 (11% of victims were girls between 11 and 14). 22% were 10 or under. 27% were 15 to 17. Overall, 81% were boys (17 and under) and 19% were girls (17 and under). (pages 10-11)

    (6) Thus, 73% were 14 or under.

    (7) The Jay report notes that in the late 70s and 80s, a significant number of seminarians were homosexual. However, these priests had a significantly lesser rate of abuse (page 38). It was in the late 70s and 80s (and onward) that the process started to clean up (over 50% of accused priests were ordained in the 50s and 60s) (page 38).

    I think the problem wasn’t homosexuals but rather a group of group of sexually immature men–some who were abused themselves–who were lonely and struck out at children. And, of course, the bishops’ poor response to the issue–which was more damaging than the priests’ behavior.

    • Dan13

      To clarify, by “sexually immature,” I mean people with warped and disturbed views on sexuality. I don’t mean sexually inexperienced.

  • Rhonda

    While I can agree with many of your “facts” you have parsed words–children, adolescents, post-pubescent–and expressed some real venom using the term “liberal.” What began as an appropriate presentation ended with a punishing indictment against already harassed groups.

  • John Barba

    Does anyone have an example of any reference group of people where not one member was ever a perpetrator of a crime? In other words, even the apostles were not spot less. We cannot pass a judgment on peoples, because of the action of a person.

  • TapestryGarden

    BRAVO! This is the first time I have ever seen anyone point out that the issue was predatory homosexuals, not pedophiles, not celibacy or any of the other canards that are routinely trotted out as the reasons for the disgusting scandal. Many of these priests were hiding out in an era when homosexuals could not be “out” and thus it was a perfect storm of opportunity meets innocence with a lot of money dangling in front of greedy attorneys.

    I was very involved in an industry where homosexuals are very very prominent. I saw firsthand the predatory nature of SOME (certainly not many or most) of these men who would see a young man as a potential sexual partner and use their influence and the excitement of the homosexual lifestyle to lure them in. Now maybe many or most of these young men were already suffering from same sex attraction. But it is still wrong for older men to pretend to mentor younger men with the objective of having a sexual relationship.

    I converted during the height of the sex abuse scandal and having been in a world with homosexual predators the whole disgusting mess was not a surprise to me. Unfortunately the entire Church has been painted with the “brush” of a few bad apples. I know that there are many holy and chaste priests who suffer from same sex attraction. I think it is absolutely possible for them to remain chaste as do heterosexual priests. However the era of the 60s and 70s spawned many unfortunate consequences and sexual abuse was one of them.

    I am thus very appreciative of someone finally pointing out the issue. PREDATORY HOMOSEXUALS. Not pedophiles, not celibacy, not the Church’s hierarchy. These men will answer to our Lord some day and I do not envy them this eventual fate. Nothing more disgusting or horrific could have been done by men who were meant to model Christ.

  • pburg

    Abusive priests are often liturgically and politically CONSERVATIVE. Its not exclusively the liberals fault, it was/is Satan’s hold on the world. The sexual revolution was certainly evil in many ways but so is clericalism, rigidity, and compartmentalizing sexual disfunction. These are mainly conservative problems.

  • oregon nurse

    One of the weaknesses of faulting homosexuality is that it completely ignores the issue of access to victims and obviously that meant young male altar servers and young male students/campers, etc. We see a similar phenomena in prisons where males sexually abuse other males but on the outside their preference is for females. While homosexual tendencies may have played a part for some who entered the priesthood to ‘hide out’, the ability to abuse anyone is above all an issue of character and a failure of seminaries and bishops.