Sex Abuse Facts

The Catholic Church teaches a high standard of morality and when some of its members violate that standard, the media pounces and calls it hypocrisy, and rightly so. To be clear, this post in no way condones any of the abuses which have occurred over the years. They were all terrible, sinful tragedies.

However, over the past few years the media feeding frenzy has been such that I think it might be time to regain a little bit of perspective. The following facts came from an article at

FACT: Catholic priests do not offend at a higher rate than clergy of other religious denominations or employees of other institutions that deal with youth.

FACT: The media’s frenzied Catholic priest sex abuse storyline stems only from a historical anomaly, as the vast majority of allegations occurred during a narrow band of time from the 1960s to the early 1980s. During this period the Church sent abusive priests to treatment, conforming to the then-prevailing societal view that offenders could be successfully rehabilitated but resulting in a high rate of recidivism.

FACT: Almost all accusations against Catholic priests date from decades ago, and indeed nearly half of all abuse accusations concern priests who are already dead. In an institution of 77 million people, contemporaneous accusations of abuse against Catholic clergy in the United States are very rare, recently averaging only 8.5 “credible” allegations per year.

FACT: The incidence of sexual abuse by teachers in public schools today has been estimated to be “more than 100 times” that by Catholic priests, and there is alarming evidence of school officials covering up abuse and failing to report suspected cases to authorities. Yet the mainstream media has largely ignored this shocking story while still rehashing decades-old allegations of abuse by Catholic priests.

FACT: The Catholic Church is likely the safest environment for children today.

I would invite you to pray a rosary today for the holiness of Catholic priests around the world


  • Spot on! But dude – leave us some “Like” and “G+” buttons to click. 🙂

  • Why aren’t the convicted priest de frocked. Remember it’s not just a mortal sin it’s a felony. When they go to jail does the church still back their commission?

    • The punishment of the offending priests wasn’t the focus of this post, but here a few quick thoughts while I’m waiting for a server here at work to reboot…

      There’s no such thing as getting “defrocked”. It’s a term that commonly gets thrown around, but it doesn’t actually exist. Once a priest is ordained he’s a priest forever. Nothing can ever change that.

      However, repercussions can include (and are not limited to):

      1. Being banned from doing any kind of work with children

      2. Having faculties removed (no longer being able to administer the sacraments)

      3. Being completely removed from active duty

      The punishments and precautions imposed will vary from priest to priest and from case to case, attempting to provide mercy to the penitent and maintain the possibility of his rehabilitation, whilst always ensuring the safety and protection of the vulnerable. Now that’s a job I’d never want to have…

  • Thank you for posting this, David. Of the 100% reported cases of child abuse, about less than 2% belong to clergy. That means 98% of the remaining cases belong to other folk. I’m just sayin’.

  • Very nice David, thank you for this post. Especially the reminder to keep praying for our dear priests (and seminarians)

  • Just got back from my Rosary 🙂

  • Thanks for the post David. I appreciate your points. However, this is a sensitive subject and we need to be careful that such posts don’t appear as a blanket excuse for all priests who are indeed guilty…I know that’s not what you’re doing, but someone could perceive it that way.

    While we need to be in prayer for our priests and seminarians, we as Catholics should be the most outraged at confirmed cases of abuses. Fr. Paddy MaCafferty of Ireland is a shining example. He was abused (years ago) and just spent this last year as witness against his abuser. The abuser is now in jail, and Fr. Paddy prays for him.

    • Hey David, welcome to the Restless Pilgrim 🙂

      That’s why I added the disclaimer at the beginning of the post. I spelled it out very clearly that these facts in no way excuse the guilty. I’m sure that there’ll be some who will selectively read this blog entry and get enraged, but if they’re going to do that then there’s not a whole lot I can do.

      The media has had a field day with the various priestly scandals to the point where “priest” and “pedophile” are synonymous in the minds of many people. The balance needs to be restored and the record set straight.

      And I hadn’t heard of Fr. McCafferty, thanks for bringing him up 🙂

  • Some closing words from Fr. Barron…

What are your thoughts about this article?