The Myth of Pedophile Priests

As more pedophile priest scandals blow up across Europe we should be ashamed of the offenders and those who sheltered them and oppressed the victims. The guilty should be weeded out, removed from office and handed over to the civil authorities where they are guilty of crimes. Systems to avoid abuse must be established and rigorously maintained, and victims should be justly compensated for their suffering.

However, Penn State professor Philip Jenkins (who is not a Catholic) has written the most objective book on the subject, and he summarizes his arguments in this excellent article. In light of his work, we should remember some basic facts and principles:

  • Priestly celibacy is not the issue – married men are more likely to abuse children than unmarried
  • Most child abuse takes place within the home.
  • All religious groups have pedophile scandals, and the Catholics (while the largest religious group) are at the bottom of the list statistically.
  • Child abuse is prevalent in all areas of society: schools, youth organizations, sports, etc.
  • Statistically, of all the professions, Christian clergy are least likely to offend. Doctors, Farmers and Teachers are the professions most likely to abuse children–not clergy.
  • Among clergy offenders Catholic priests are least likely to offend.
  • Catholic cases of pedophilia make more headlines because of anti Catholic prejudice and because the Catholic Church is bigger and more lucractive to sue.
  • Pedophilia and Euphebophilia are different problems. The former is sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The latter is attraction to teenagers. Most cases branded ‘pedophila’ are actually ‘euphebophila.’
  • Most of the cases of euphebophilia are homosexual in nature, however the politically correct do not want this problem to be associated with homosexuality.
  • The number of Catholic priests guilty of pedophilia is very small.
  • What we now call ‘cover up’ was often done in a different cultural context, when the problem was not fully understood and when all establishment organizations hushed scandals. They did so for what seemed good reasons at the time: protection of the victims and their families, opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender, the avoidance of scandal to others. It is unfair to judge events thirty years ago by today’s standards.
  • When lawsuits are looming people smell money. We must be wary of false accusations.
  • The accused must be entitled to a fair hearing. The church should insist on hard proof of the abuse, and for the sake of justice, ensure that the innocent are not prosecuted.
  • When guilt is established the offender must be punished, not sheltered.
  • Distinctions must be made between types of abuse. Some offenses are worse than others. Verbal abuse or corporal punishment during a time when that was acceptable, while lamentable, is not the same as sexual abuse or extreme physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse of an adult, or a sexually experienced older teenager is wrong, and damaging, and should be punished, but it is not the same as the sexual abuse of a younger, innocent child.
  • Number of offenses must be considered. One lapse is not of the same seriousness as repeated, persistent and premeditated offenses. 

I am in no way wishing to be soft of pedophiles and those who covered for them, however justice and truth demand an objective analysis of the facts.

More on the Benedict Option
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Big Hearted Francis
All Are Welcome....To What Exactly?
  • Gina

    WELL DONE. Everyone needs to read this post, and calm down.

  • the Egyptian

    and the chances of this actually being published in the main stream media is ??????any takers on odds???personally 0 to none

  • Catawissa Gazetteer

    Father, I hope you don't mind but I reprinted your post on my blog at Your words are important and need to be read.If you want me to remove it, let me know.Thanks,Tom Usher

  • kkollwitz

    Thanks for these links.

  • Anneg

    Excellent post. I've been telling people that suing the diocese for moving a priest 30 years ago is like suing a doctor for not treating you for cancer 30 years ago with a drug that came out last year. I believe it is a very healthy thing that the Church has focused on the issues of homosexuality which went along with many of the problems as you said. The statistics are fascinating re where children are abused and professions most likely to abuse children and certainly correspond to anedcotal evidence. Thanks, AnneG

  • shadowlands

    Father John Abberton over at Stella Maris blog has a very interesting post on this topic and mentions the rarely talked about possible presence of evil. If I may quote a little here, as a taster and also a link."In dealing with abuse victims, troubled by demons or not, the major problem is the unique depth of their pain. In a talk I gave to some other exorcists I once described this as a "tear in the soul"; I could think of no other description. It is such an assault on a person's God-given dignity – such a violation of their individuality – that it can only be understood by another abuse victim. It is not surprising that apologies, however detailed and sincere, are unacceptable; no apology is ever enough."

  • Ttony

    Father, the Egyptian is right: no mainstream media source will pick it up. But keep saying it on the Internet and it will reach people who can think.Thanks for the support.

  • Sherry W

    What we are experiencing now is a global wake up call. This problem has been with us since the beginning of time but the first published article on the topic of child sexual abuse wasn't published until 1867. It is not that it just wasn't talked about in Catholic circles. It simply wasn't dealt with anywhere.And it really only started to come to consciousness for western society as a whole in the 70's and 80's. Studies show that the occurrence of child sexual abuse is probably a lot higher in poor countries than in developed countries which have more ways to protect children and most ways to deal with abuse when it happens. In a sense, the west was doomed to wrestle with this first.For instance, a major study was published in India in 2007 which stunningly, showed that 53% of the children surveyed had experienced sexual abuse. A majority. In a country that is very poor and where the vast majority of people are not Christian. You can't blame it on Catholic priests in India. How long it will take for communal pressure to really deal with this reality in India, if ever?This is going to be one of those things that we (the human race) wrestles with for centuries to come.

  • becket
  • Tim H.

    Is it really a pedophilia or euphebophilia problem or is it homoexual problem?I have a theory…The majority of what we hear about are priests abusing young boys, not young girls. If this is indeed the case, and I would like to see some stats, then I would put forth the argument that the victims are children simply because children are an easier mark than adults and that the problem is one of homosexuality and not pedophelia.The media scream "Pedophile Priests" but never call them "Homosexual Priests", yet the media glorifies homsexuality otherwise. A homosexual priest… why that would be… normal? -Tim-

  • Therese

    The media spends 99 percent of its coverage on a very small fraction of the problem. Psychologists say that 2 to 4 percent of the adult population have abused children. But 2 to 4 percent of the adult population are not in jail (assuming 200 million adults out of a 300 million total population that would be 4 to 8 million people in jail). Did the media do anything to expose the many victims of abusers other than the Church? Only a few isolated truly objective reporters. The rest focused on the 1000 to 2000 priest that span abuse over 50 years. How many Hollywood child performers were abused? How many underage fans did Hollywood stars abuse? Mr. Polanksi got a standing ovation and an award from his Hollywood peers. How many public school students were abused? The schools had a name for removing abusers and getting them jobs in other districts, it was called "passing the trash." Isn't this a coverup? Why are these victims allowed to sue for multi-million dollar lawsuits? Bottom line is that the Church has had the bulk of the media attention because the media (and others) are more interested in destroying the church's voice and reputation than they are in justice. Wouldn't it be interesting if someone could find a loophole to sue news organizations for complicity in abuse by stopping with the Church and not going on to expose all the other abusers in our society and the institutional systems that do not effectively prevent abuse.

  • Brian

    I am certainly not defending those who commit these perverse crimes in secular settings, but with regard to those in the Church who have I have contemplated the words of the Lord Jesus who said, "Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more." As painful and unfair as it may seem to be, I am inclined to think that this means that the Church, the bride of the Lord and his mystical Body, must be held to a higher standard.

  • Irishcobra

    Excellent article and well said. This is from an Irish Catholic and I know the terrible shame we feel here. Your article spoke true and said it all better then I could. God Bless you

  • helgothjb

    The problem is homosexual priests. The acts are acts of homosexuality. We need to start talking about this problem. Much has been done to root those who practice homosexuality out of the seminary, but much more needs to be done. The problem is rampant in numerous religious orders. Many remain in positions of high power who only advance those that homosexual.

  • Margaret

    Thank you so much for this post. It puts everything into perspective for me and encourages and motivates me.I would dearly love to share this with others but there are NO references or citations for your statistics! This renders your post un-citeable in non-Catholic discussions. "Because Father x said so" just doesn't cut it in the secular world!Please provide sources for your statistics so we can use them in general-audience discussions.Thank you again and God bless you and your work.

  • Katherine

    You make fine points on the rarity of these problems, but I part company with you on the second question. The issue is the cover-up, which was unacceptable. As we are seeing in the case from the Archdiocese of Munich, decisions were made in opposition to the advice of the very mental health professional who was treating the offending priest.

  • flyingvic

    "It is unfair to judge events thirty years ago by today's standards." Matthew 18.6. These were events that should have been judged by the standards of two thousand years ago."…opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender…" = let's just move him to another parish.

  • Victoria

    I would dearly love to share this with others but there are NO references or citations for your statistics! This renders your post un-citeable in non-Catholic discussions. "Because Father x said so" just doesn't cut it in the secular world!Margaret, you are quite correct. Father, could you give a link to the stats please.

  • Victoria

    Jenkins' book is 14 years old. To be taken seriously as a reference and not just as giving an overview pre 1996 there needs to be a second edition.

  • Beth in TN

    Hetero- or homosexual should be of no distinction when speaking of priests. They took vows to remain celibate. Period.

  • Mary O’Rahilly

    A very timely perspective. Thanks

  • Tim H.

    Beth in TN…They did take vows, yes. And we Catholics dip our finger in the holy water and make the sign of the cross every time we enter Mass, thereby renewing our baptismal promise to renounce satan. Yet we sin. My point was about the media's attacks and not buying into it. The media homosexuality in as natural and normal. When it comes to Catholic priests however, the media ceases to call them "people who struggle to find their sexual identity" but instead attacks them as pedophiles. My point was simply to encourage people not to take what the media says at face value. Don't buy into evernything they say. Remember that Dan Rather worked for CBS which was considered the bastion of jouralistic integrity. The media makes stuff up sometimes. They made stuff up about my four year old daughter when she was in the hospital with Leukemia. They made stuff up about my cycling club when they did a story on us. They lie. -Tim-

  • Tim H.

    A must read from George Weigel at NRO. "Those who see in these scandals an opportunity to cripple the Catholic Church and its moral teaching have long had the card of “cover-up” to play in the global media. That card has now been taken away by Benedict XVI."

  • Ellen

    Great post. It's interesting to read the facts from someone outside the Catholic church. I've always felt that the issue with celibacy is that it made the Catholic church a bigger target, not that it was the cause – when celibacy is not required, sexual abuse is not as press worthy.

  • Rob Zechman

    "The problem is homosexual priests."I personally know several females sexually abused by men when they were children.I'll bet this is the fault of the gays as well.Ah, scapegoating. Gotta love it.

  • numealinesimpetar

    Well done for your honesty in pointing these things out. But the article would be far more valuable if you had citations. I hope you can supply this.

  • jayeverett

    You can always buy off people with compensation (money) but is is more Christ like to forgive the Priest who has committed the sin against the young. What is important is "Go and sin no more, your sins have been forgiven". The church cannot protect them form civil authority and must not. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God". "If you cannot forgive then you will not be forgiven".

  • Bec

    Interesting article I would like to see some figures for statements such asDoctors, Farmers and Teachers are the professions most likely to abuse children–not clergyandAll religious groups have pedophile scandals, and the Catholics are at the bottom of the list statistically.Are these statements based on a worldwide study or just a specific area such as the States or Europe. Over what time period? etc

  • helgothjb

    I was in seminary in mid 90's for a diocese and spent a year in a religious order as a novice. The order that ran the seminary had numerous openly gay members and many seminarians were openly gay. Some of the gay seminarians set their sights on some of the straight ones, for fun I think. They groped them, continually flirted with them and spoke obscenely about what they wanted to do with them. When they complained they were told they were homophobic and either needed extreme psychological treatment or needed to leave. The order I did my novitiate with (leaving just before vows) had a gay problem as well. The province I was in had many young brothers and priest who were straight and very orthodox (there are those who are very conservative and orthodox in all thing but sexual teaching that are gay as well). However, there were many in positions of authority in the province that were part of the lavender mafia, as it is called. When we visited another province's student house it was an out and out doily part. Professed religious were sitting arm in arm, walking hand in hand, etc. It was a real eye opener, let me tell you. This experience is, unfortunately, not rare. Just read 'The Changing Face of the Priesthood' by Fr. Cozzens and this article are better today as far as seminaries go, but the lavender mafia still holds the reins of power in many places. This is the real scandal. Almost all the reported abuse is with post-pubescent boys by homosexual priests! Let’s get it out in the open so that something can be done.

  • Das Erlebnis

    All was excellent except the following:Number of offenses must be considered. One lapse is not of the same seriousness as repeated, persistent and premeditated offenses. The Thing is that One so-called "lapse" is utterly unacceptable. It shouldn't happen at all. And while you're other points are excellent indeed, you're a real jack-ass [to the author and to the guy who re-posted this) for including that last 'thing' about the gay kiddo-phile priests who molest, well, anyone at all.How about a new rule: Don't molest. Not twice, not once, not adults, not teens, not pre-teens, not boys, not girls, not anyone. Not old ladies, not the retarded, not the infirmed, not the handicap. Just not anyone.It's crappy behavior and in my book – it's punishable by Death squads. But then, I'm a Texan, we take this stuff Seriously, evidently, more seriously than "The Church that Jesus Christ built".Pull it together. I don't want to hear anymore talk about the so-called less-denouncable account of a single lapse for the reason that it wasn't a hundred. That's just stupid.But first things first: Get rid of the gays. You priests and your gays are alarming. This is the Catholic Church – no homo.

  • Fr Longenecker

    Das Earl: the strong passions are understandable, but you still have to make a distinction between a single incident where a person has failed and repeated, premeditated and planned abuse.This doesn't mean the single lapse is okay and that it shouldn't be punished–only that for the sake of justice it cannot be punished as severely as the repeat offender.In addition to this there are different sorts of crimes–some which are less offensive than others. Sexual innuendo or inappropriate touching is less offensive than genital contact, sodomy or rape.We have no problem saying that shoplifting or cheating on taxes is less serious than armed robbery while we insist that all are wrong and should be punished.

  • Commodianus

    What a blessing your words are Father.

  • Hermit Sans Permit

    thanks for posting this, informative..pax

  • Tim H.

    Dated March 23"The reasoning is sound: as we have seen from several studies—including the one just released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops—80 percent of the victims are male. Just as important, the majority of the victims are post-pubescent. In other words, we are talking about homosexuality, not pedophilia." Read more…

  • cnb

    Like several others, I would like to know where the points you make are documented and substantiated. One cannot responsibly use them in debate if one cannot back them up.In particular, I would like to see a comparison of "abuse rates" between Catholic priests and clergy or pastors of other Christian groups. You claim that the Catholic rates are lower, but the article to which you link says that the rates in other Christian groups are not known.

  • Angela M.

    I want to know why it took this particular group so long to come forward. When this situation happened in my family I went to the polic within 24 hours.

  • Commodianus

    If we could have some source citations for say, the claim farmers are more likely, or teachers for example, are more likely to abuse than priests, that may be helpful.

  • R J

    Thanks be to God for your comments, Father. I am sick to the back teeth of so-called Catholics who feel obliged to believe every item of misinformation that the Satanic mainstream media propagate on the subject, and to collaborate with those who have had the agenda of destroying the Church since at least 1789. Such cowardly ersatz-Catholics are at least as bad as any priestly abuser.Last I heard, the Vicar of Christ was Benedict XVI, not Christopher Hitchens or Britain's National Secular Society.

  • R J

    Angela M. asks, quite rightly:"I want to know why it took this particular group so long to come forward. When this situation happened in my family I went to the police within 24 hours."Because it's not really about stopping heinous sex crimes at all. It's about two things. First, siccing the dogs of war onto Christ's Church. Second, money money money money money. Any Catholic who doesn't realize these facts by now is probably too stupid to be allowed outside a sheltered workshop.

  • Stephen Parker

    Thank you, Father. I posted a link to this on my facebook page.

  • Tom

    I read the book at least 7 years ago. And while Jenkins is not a Catholic–he used to be.Any reason why he left? He never mentioned it in the book or in his Chronicles pieces. Just said he held no animus and was now a small Catholic Episcopalian.

  • Daniel

    Mr Zechman who posted above needs to "put his thinking cap on", as they used to say if he wants to be taken seriously by anyone. He would like us to believe the hilarious notion that homosexuals are being "scapegoated" in this whole affair. Such thinking is really not worthy of comment but I will attempt to do so anyway.The homosexual perversion (an unspeakable crime against nature which has nothing "gay" about it at all) is so demeaning to the homosexual that he will lower himself to do amost anything, including molesting adolescent boys. They have already given themselves over to the most unnamable acts of personal defilement so the additonal defilement of young boys doesn't bother them unduly. Throughout their sordid, unhappy history sodomites have ALWAYS gone after adolescent boys, so let's stop this utter nonsense about "scapegoating".As for the Church and the heirarchy: only when the Pope grows a backbone, stops visiting Jewish synagogues and Protestant temples, stops worrying about global weather concerns, begins doubting his faith in evolution and begins to sack, fire, discipline and excommunicate priests, nuns, bishops and, yes, Cardinals who promote, protect and encourage the homsexual perversion will anything meaningful happen. Only when Benedict confronts them "eyeball to eyeball" and exercise for once the power he has will change for the better begin to occur. Sadly, since Benedict seems overly terrified of the media this is, barring a near-miracle, something unlikely to happen.If I sound a little harsh on the Holy Father it is only because the time is long, long overdue to clean the "filth" (his words, by the way) out of the Church. John Paul II fiddled while Rome burned, and Paul VI, John XXIII and even Pius XII have to answer for their inactions in these cases.The Church – that means the Pope – has to have the guts to start chopping. He has to stop being a nice guy and start acting tough, no matter what the media jackals (and the swinish Bishops who protect sodomites)will say.Holy Father…do not delay much longer.

  • Percolating Petals

    Thanks, Father, for this post. My dear pastor was removed due to 30-years old allegations. He pleaded no contest (but not guilty) because he knew that a jury (in the middle of the Bible Belt) would convict him solely on the basis of his collar, not on the true facts.

  • Sheryl

    Dear Father,There are two reasons why priests got away with molesting adolescents in my humble opinion.1. After Vatican II it was no longer permitted to teach that avoiding hell was a good reason for avoiding sin. Therefore, adolescents lost their most potent weapon to tell Father: "You are going to hell, and you are not going to take me with you."2. Married people liked being able to use birth control using a "good conscience decision." Father Molester was using his "good conscience" too. After Vatican II, we were told that we would do the right thing from now on for the love of God not because we feared Him. That was not a good plan because those who love evil don't love being reminded of judgement.There is an excellent Handbook of Moral Theology by Dominic Pruemmer available from that picks up where we left off 50 years ago when the moral law was taught as if the Church means it. Priests may do less molesting than other members of society, but they have far greater influence over the behavior of others for good or evil.Sheryl

  • Mary Louise

    helgothjb: Very sorry you had to see and live thru these immoral, ghastly scenes at various seminaries. Can you, or Father Longnecker, or an honest, knowledgeable person on this Blog Site please list the correct, complete names of these 'lavender' seminaries, monasteries, religious houses, institutions so that I KNOW where NOT to send any donations? Reason: In the mail, I constantly receive (and I think many Catholic families receive) cards, poverty-stricken heartbreaking letters, leaflets, brochures from "Catholic" religious houses ASKING FOR DONATIONS. I never know WHICH ARE orthodox, authentic, genuine 100% orthodox Catholic religious Orders. Can you help? Or who would have such a list? Thank you. Bravo, Daniel, and Sheryl for your words !

  • Mary Louise

    helgothjb: Very sorry you had to see and live thru these immoral, ghastly scenes at various seminaries. Can you, or Father Longnecker, or an honest, knowledgeable person on this Blog Site please list the correct, complete names of these 'lavender' seminaries, monasteries, religious houses, institutions so that I KNOW where NOT to send any donations? Reason: In the mail, I constantly receive (and I think many Catholic families receive) cards, poverty-stricken heartbreaking letters, leaflets, brochures from "Catholic" religious houses ASKING FOR DONATIONS. I never know WHICH ARE orthodox, authentic, genuine 100% orthodox Catholic religious Orders. Can you help? Or who would have such a list? Thank you. Bravo, Daniel, and Sheryl for your words !

  • Tom
  • opey124

    Something just isn't sitting right with me about this list.Although the number of clergy found guilty is small, how many victims were there?I think that number is higher than the one in society in general.For example, the 200 deaf children. There may have been one priest, but there were 200+ victims. Also, I think the part about sexually experienced teenagers vs children needs to be rethought.Just because someone is sexually experienced, doesn't mean that the impact is going to be any less on them. Consider this, a teenager goes to counseling for past abuse and is abused. According to what was said, the impact would be less but it may be worse in actuality/double whammy.It is important to keep a perspective on these but I do not find comfort knowing that (for example) only ten priest molested! But forgetting there were 1,000 victims.Abuse is evil no matter age or gender.

  • Alethea

    I am a Catholic and an incest survivor, you might want to check out my article on this very subject: I have to disagree with your remark about the number of offenses being considered. The first offense is the one that the perpetrator was CAUGHT at doing. Most offenders have sexually assaulted many many children before they are caught.

  • Scumbag Style

    None of which is the point.

  • msc

    Thank you so much Father for this posting!I have worked with troubled teens for over 25 years and the majority of them were abused by "happily straight married men".It drives me crazy when the press keeps harping about celibacy! Sexual abuse is about power, not sex!Maybe the Vatican should publish it's findings on this subject.

  • well I’ll be

    Now that lawyers have amassed great fortunes at the expense of the church, they can instruct anyone who wants to accuse a priest on how to do it "adequately." Yes, there are guilty priests in this regard but now any priest, or for that matter any Bishop, can be accused, especially by one saying it happened 20 or 30 or more years ago, or if the accused is deceased.

  • opey124

    Well, the number of victims matter to me.I have been looking over the John Jay Study.Even in it, they go by what was reported, indicating the victims may be higher.To a point, the Catholic Church can measure what has happened where others, they can not. BUT, the general person is not over a congregation as a priest is.I am glad the percentage is not high (priest abusers).But I am not happy about the amount of victims and we still have a lot of work to do.

  • opey124

    One more thing.In the media and general public, pedophilia usually means sex/contact with someone under the age limit.But, from John Jay study:• The largest group of alleged victims (50.9%) was between the ages of 11 and 14, 27.3% were 15-17, 16% were 8-10 and nearly 6% were under age 7. Overall, 81% of victims were male and 19% female. Male victims tended to be older than female victims. Over 40% of all victims were males between the ages of 11 and 14.So the largest group are pre-pubescent. Most males do not hit puberty 14 or that is the average.

  • opey124

    2009's report is out and there is a dramatic drop in allegations.But, you still have the majority (54%) that was reported (abuse from previous years) in the pre-pubescent age – pedophilia.I do agree that the media unfairly picks on the Church.We need to be fair in reporting and looking at this.But as much as I hate the way the media keeps this up front, it is a reminder that without their reporting and keeping it alive, some (not all) of the Bishops would have swept it under the carpet and I don't think the Dallas Charter would have happened as quickly as it did. It is difficult and we do need to respond and double check what the media is reporting.But it doesn't seem an unfair label, pedophilia priest when the majority were in the group – or so what is reported by our own Church.

  • FatherHPotter

    Well said, father…It is unfair to the people who need us that a mere accusation alone can finish a priest's ministry.

  • dolorosa

    I would like to see this printed in the main news media but I won't hold my breath. Anyhow, I posted a link to it on my Facebook page and will also send it to family and friends through e-mail. The truth will set us free!

  • opey124

    Philip Jenkins book was copyrighted in 1996.It does not include the John Jay study nor the recent CARA facts that the USCCB has issued.I have written USCCB to ask exactly how they consider the group of victims that have come forward (ages 10-14) and have yet to get an answer.In the article you linked, he quoted the Chicago study not what we have now.I do not think, looking at the stats we have of victims that were courageous enough to come forward, this is accurate.The largest group was victims between the ages of 10-14.I will wait to see how the USCCB categorizes them.We need to look at this honestly.I think he did what he could at that time but it doesn't seem to reflect what I have been reading (non media).

  • Fr Longenecker

    A comment by 'Natasha' has been deleted. It was blasphemous and dirty. I don't often censor the combox, but filth will go. Sorry.

  • Tom

    I would've let the filthy comment stand to show what we're up against.But then, it could appear that one of us wrote it.

  • Tom

    And the erstwhile Catholic Jenkins' book was republished. Little changed except the introduction.

  • helgothjb

    Has any one else read the book by Michael Rose – Goodbye! Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations From the Priesthood? If you want to know more of the history behind all of this, please give it a read.

  • Tom

    Or: "The Homosexual Network" by the late and persecuted Fr. Enrique Rueda

  • slack

    "Cultural context"? You're asking for the Catholic Church to be graded on a curve? No.Also, the only pedophile priest I personally know targeted girls. But I'm pretty sure the criminal statutes don't differentiate between rape of a girl and rape of a boy. I'm not sure why you're fixated on the gender of the victims. Perhaps it's part of your ridiculous "it's society's fault" mind set.

  • Fr Longenecker

    Matt's comment was deleted due to foul language, but he thinks saying the child abuse happened at a different time doesn't matter because it's always wrong.Yes, and nobody said it wasn't wrong. The point is that it was dealt with differently in a different time. That doesn't mean it was right, just that society looked at it differently and treated it differently.

  • Margaret

    I feel that this discussion has degenerated into bickering over the non-issue of determining exactly how evil is it for Priests to abuse children. It is obviously utterly evil and so there is no point in continuing to gnaw on that bone.Could we get back to Father's original post please? I think that what made the original post so compelling (and set it apart from the unproductive hand-wringing that this issue usually generates)was the list of facts and statistics that he provided.What would be really great to see in the comments would be some documentation of some of the facts and figures that Father listed.Has anyone seen any of these statistics before somewhere else? Can anyone provide sources for some of these facts?If you want to actually contribute something here, how about contributing to a bibliography?

  • Dan Auer

    Even the bigots are coming around to the fact that Benedict XVI is the good guy in this battle.

  • Jack Napier

    It's not the crime; it's the cover-up. If the Church was less concerned about its image, and more about doing what is right, it would not have this problem. But the implications of this scandal go far beyond the naked fold-out in this month's Altar Boy Magazine.Evidently, Jesus was too busy sodomizing young boys on the golf course to do anything about it; all the priests were doing was following in their MESS-iah's footsteps. Or more likely, he was simply too dead to do anything honorable — and has been in this state for 1900 years.Faith is like fine china: once broken, it can never truly be mended. It is JESUS who failed. Jas. 4:17; i Ki. 18. Like his father Ba'al before him, Jesus is indistinguishable from an idol of stone.

  • Jeremiah Methuselah

    Fr Longenecker,Several have asked for your sources ? Shall we see them ?JM

  • mazu

    this article is completely disgusting…even IF all of your "facts" were true-which they are not, it is amazing that you would blame the victims of the abuse, especially children! you are so busy protecting the church that you don't show one bit of compassion or advocacy for the abused. shouldn't the focus be on how to stop the abuse? it also seems you have overlooked the concept that even one child being abused is one child too many. why should it matter if the media is exaggerating the abuse or whether it's homosexual or euphobilia? that is so beside the point!!!!!!!!!!!! WTF?????

  • Fr Longenecker

    mazu did you read the last paragraph? To insist on all the facts in a case is not to excuse a crime or defend the offender or blame the victims.

  • opey124

    I think the book that Fr. Longecker is quoting has some value. Especially that sexual abuse of children is not just a Catholic problem or JUST a priest problem.Some recokening with numbers and figures need to be made though.The biggest group were under 14.Pedophiles rarely have one victim. That doesn't mean you will know all of them or that they will come forward Or that they are still alive. A lot of victims of abuse are suicidal so some may be dead.The Catholic Church has done a great job in trying to reach out and ask people to come forward. There are areas that still need to be addressed.To simply say this was a "gay" problem is overlooking the largest group. To say this was simply a pedophile problem is overlookingthose that were, and do identify themselves as gay.So, if the Church has put in place exclusion from the priesthood those that are active homosexuals – the older childrenand adult males abuse will be cleared up.And, if the Church looks further to understand a healthy sexuality in adults, in order to avoid potential pedophiles, then that needs to be applauded.Point by Point1. agree2. agree3. agree4. agree5. agree6. not sure7. not sure – the abuse and coverup was big. So the media helped bringing this to a head. As far as suing, not sure.8. Again, pedophilia is prepubescent – most of the boys were under 14.9. I am not seeing that people don't want it to be a gay problem -10. This may very well be true but the number of victims by pedophiles is EXTREMELY high.11. agreed12. maybe13. true unless the perpetrator is dead. Help for the victim needs to happen.14. agreed and they need to be removed from clerical state.15. not sure I agree totally with that.16. I will have to disagree with this one on the point that if you categorize the adult women or experienced teenagers as notserious, you will miss the sociopath – like Maciel. Also, it is not uncommon for pedophiles to prey on vulnerable people period.17. Strongly disagree. If you have one case of child sexual abuse they need to be removed from clerical state. That doesn't meanthat if the Church can afford a place for them to retire to, if they are willing, for them to go. Most will feign as victims themselves.Also, there is a stigma surrounding female abuse that I feel is preventing all from coming forward.We may never know the extent, but what is taking place in the Church, measures, is comforting and also the education is of great value.

  • opey124

    One last point, until we can all call abuse (all abuse) what it is, evil, we will not be able to fully help people who come for help.I realize this study in the Church is to help heal and prevent, but there is still work to be done.The leaders, priests and Bishops, have got to fix it in their heads that abuse is evil and relay it to the people in the pew.This is also helps quiet those that snicker and make remarks that "I am glad it was a girl/women instead of boy/man" comments that go on.

  • 4401pbc

    For the whole story, please read Understanding a Cesspool of Corruptionby Thomas A. Droleskey. Location:, The book it refers to by Randy Engel is a REAL study. Many here are quoting the erroneous statistics of the highly questionable John Jay study. I quote from an article on titled Hail to Caesar by Lyle Arnold: "The JJ report would seem to be exactly what the Bishops wanted to hear. The researchers found no evidence of "a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse." The article points out the flaws in the "study", which the USCCB paid 2 million for. I am going to guess, specifically for the last sentence in the paragraph above. "For more on how the figures presented by Church authorities about homosexuality (relations of two males over age 18) and pedophilia (relations of an adult and a child age 13 and under) have incorrectly simplified the picture, see the book Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia by Atila Guimarães (pp. 165-168). THERE THE AUTHOR SHOWS HOW THE OMISSION OF THE MEDIARY PHASE – AGES 13 to 18 – WHERE THERE IS A TRANSITION TO HOMOSEXUALITY, SKEWS THE FIGURES. THIS TRANSITION PERIOD IS ALSO IGNORED IN THE JJ REPORT."As the author points out, the problem IS homosexuality, by and large. Engel's book documents the problem historically, and has largely been ignored in the media.

  • Episkopos

    Pedophilia is a power act, in some ways no different than Vatican power over and suppression of its clergy. Posters here equating that act with homossexality are as unlettered and unlearned as many of the secularists who attack the Divinity of Christ. There is no gainsaying how the current Catholic Church structure is as different from the original "ekklesiai" of the early Church as are many of the teachings (on usury, married clergy, liturgy in the venacular, papal inflalibility [Pope John XXII declared papal infallibility the work of the devil]) it spouts forth today. The Church needs a massive cleaning up, a liquid bleach aspergence if you will. It will not happen, it appears, as Our Lady of LaSallete has said "Rome will lose the faith." The Catholic community is getting today exactly what it has asked for- a clergy and structure that does not do the bidding of the Almighty, but instead its own.

  • E-money

    I have to respectfully disagree with the premise of the article. Celibacy is a huge issue. Celibacy goes against the norms of nature. By insisting that catholic priests take an oath of celibacy, the church is in essence only allowing deviants to become priests (people who do not require sexual gratification deviate from the norm). I believe that this is why the catholic church attracts a large amount of homosexuals and pedophiles to the priesthood, combined with the fact that it offers penance for these issues.

  • joshua

    Father, thank you I'm doing a report on this very topic. I also posted this on my facebook page

  • Em

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • proximity7

    The presentation of these supposed statistics makes me nothing but sad.While I agree that the world is no friend to the church, the appropriate attitude seems like humility, repentance, and grief, not a bold, defensive spirit, which is how some of the comments to this post come across. These revelations should lead anyone who identifies with the Catholic church to clothe him/herself in sackcloth and ashes, crying out to God for the victims and for a church culture that allowed this to happen, and then praying and working for new safeguards for the vulnerable, and a new awareness of congregations and leadership who will be vigilant for any suspicious words or behavior.As for victims coming forward, I need to say, as respectfully as possible, that if you expect all victims to quickly come forward, you do not understand the dynamics of abuse, friend. Ironically, the victim of abuse often feels that he/she is to blame. There are very strong elements of embarrassment, shame, and confusion. Young children may keep abuse to themselves, especially if parents are not alert to changes in mood or behavior that are likely to follow abuse.I say this in the full knowledge of someone who has experienced this (not at the hands of a priest, but I offer my experience to help others understand something of a victim's experience). While the event that occurred when I was a small child was a vague memory which I questioned the validity of, to this day it continues to impact how I relate to God and other people, what I believe about myself, how I present myself to others, etc. Although my suspicions were confirmed as a teenager (upon unwittingly visiting the perpetrator in his home), I never told my parents what had happened until my late twenties.Many victims will not come forward. If they do, many will not do so for years. Those who have mentioned that one revelation of abuse indicates others… I believe you are quite correct. It is likely that my abuser took advantage of many other children.Parents, fellow priests, lay leaders, aunts, uncles, single people who are friends of families with children… all need to be constantly vigilant for the safety of the children they love. ALWAYS have a keen eye for the character of adults (and other children) with whom your children spend time, as well as for the moods and behavior of your children. Open communication and a close relationship is vital to preventing abuse, and if it happens, in getting the child help to find healing and prevent the increased damage that occurs when it remains hidden and no advocate arises to defend the child and stand up for justice.Someone mentioned that the church ought to be held to a higher standard. How could the church of Jesus Christ, the pure, spotless, holy Lamb of God, be otherwise?? The church is the last place on earth where vile crimes like this should occur. "Come, all of you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The church should, must be a place of shelter for the hurting. That it ever became, for even one person, a place of abuse is a horrific tragedy.The first paragraph of this blog post started out in an excellent way. But the fact that the second paragraph began with a "however" made me feel ill. I don't think this was the intention, but these statistics smack of justification and downplaying. I don't want to be at all disrespectful, but they also don't seem very well thought-out. For example, stats on occupations of abusers are based on the number of victims who actually come forward to report, which is clearly influenced by many factors and thus skews any data. Most importantly, distinctions between types of abuse are irrelevant – they are all vile crimes. The statement about 'pedophilia' vs. 'euphebophilia' would be laughable were the issue not so serious.I hope the original writer and others who have left comments will consider what I have said, and that it will make a difference in how people think and talk about this issue.

  • protest2020
  • Ismael

    @protest2020""Too bad the Guardian made a HUGE BLUNDER.WHAT THE GUARDIAN REPOSTS HERE IS FALSE!!!The document 'Crimine solicitationies' did not ask to 'cover up' anyhing but stated that each bishop should act directly against priests under their own authority without the need of direct report each time to the vatican.The document did not in any case suggest or impose cover ups.

  • Ismael

    @proximity7"The church is the last place on earth where vile crimes like this should occur. "Same goes for schools and even more for families (where most abuses occur!!!!!!)You criticize the truth.That the Church needs to clean up its act, it is well understood, the Father is not underplaying the severity of the problem, but shines the light on the REAL PROBLEM:Sexyal abuse of minors is present EVERYWHERE, but mostly ignored, except when it come to involve priests.Of course if sexual abuse outside the Church is ok for you, then we have even one more problem

  • serdan

    "Number of offenses must be considered. One lapse is not of the same seriousness as repeated, persistent and premeditated offenses." No, one offense is more than enough.If ANYONE abuses any child in any just once, they need to be locked away to protect other vulnerable youth. The more one does something, the more they will do it.

  • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

    "To insist on all the facts in a case is not to excuse a crime or defend the offender or blame the victims."Such a claim exhibits the same rational defect as the claim "Rape is about power, not sex." In both cases, actions referred to by an undefined term are claimed to have no overlap with another term that appears, prima facie, to be related. In both cases, neither definitions (i.e.: terms are vague) nor evidence is provided which enable rational analysis of the claim. Regrettably, rationality is the natural enemy of faith, which holds that belief with more certainty than evidence supports is virtuous, and application of logic to identify errors is evil when it conflicts with beloved ideas. For those of us committed to honesty and truth, faith is a sin. Our evidence? It is only really needed to support either honest mistakes, or lies. Truths are strong enough to stand on their own with or without any human awareness or acknowledgement.

  • flyingvic

    Unbelievable! John C.'Buck' Field is happy to castigate the faithful for not producing either definitions or evidence; but then cheerfully makes two breath-takingly arrogant statements to justify his position without producing any evidence worthy of the name whatsoever.Does he manage projects, I wonder, in the same cavalier fashion?

  • Peter Mackay

    Amazing how quickly a filthy comment can be deleted yet filthy pedophile priests have lingered for years amid their their protectors. Only when (and not likely soon) that the church honestly addresses this problem without sanctimonious arrogance, will its downhill slide into oblivion be halted. So go ahead and delete my comments then stick you collective heads back in the sand…. sad, so sad for the vast majority of decent dedicated priests and others, suffering as a result of such an appalling response to a real and disgusting situation.