Monday, March 22, 2010

Lucia Priestly sex abuse by the numbers

There are currently 400,000 Catholic priests in the whole world.

Allegations of sexual abuse, spanning a period of 50 years have been made against 3000 priests, or roughly 0.75% of total priests worldwide.

Of these 3000 alleged abusers, 10% were pedophiles, 60% were homosexual attractions to teenaged boys.

So, in an institution that currently has over 1 billion members, there have been 300 priests world wide, over the last 50 years accused of pedophilia.

That's less than NZ's annual road toll.


10 comment(s):

bez said...

Lucy, look again at your numbers, 3000 or 300?

Also,while the numbers may be low, that can never, ever, be an excuse to to shelter anybody from the consequences of behavior that is not just legally wrong but also morally wrong.

The issue is one that has faced the church for a long time, and it has never been able to get itself to take the only possible unambiguous stance on it. As long as the church hides behind obfuscation and smoke and mirrors, this cancer will continue to corrode the church's moral authority.

While I agree this issue must not be allowed to turn into a which hunt which would only assist those who are out destroy the church, it is not helping itself by the current strategy.

Lucia Maria said...


3000 crimes against the sixth Commandment ("thou shall not commit impure acts") committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen.

Of those 3000, 10% (ie 300) are cases of true pedophilia, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children.

Hope that clears it up for you.

lso,while the numbers may be low, that can never, ever, be an excuse to to shelter anybody from the consequences of behavior that is not just legally wrong but also morally wrong.


I think those that commit crimes of this nature ought to be executed.

KG said...

It'd be interesting to compare that rate of offending against that of teachers...

ZenTiger said...

And as investigations continue into secular institutions, we are discovering that those places also engaged in cover-up, transfers and ignoring complaints. Those crimes are also heinous, as far as the victims are concerned, but the media and the law do not chase them because apparently, secular institutions are not required to act in a moral way or support individual rights - or at least that is the overwhelmingly strong impression I am receiving.

Most of the people involved in the abuses of the 50s and 60s are likely dead, and pursuing them in the courts will achieve little.

The witch hunts looking to put the blame on the Pope are nothing more than witch hunts. With all the trappings of secular superstition, by that I mean the tendency for people to claim rational thought is the domain of secular atheists and then go prove they act as irrationally as anyone else when given the opportunity.

We need to be applying the hard lessons learned by the church to other organisations who are creating victims NOW.

Canterbury Atheists said...

In 2009 The U.S Catholic Church undertook a 2 million dollar study into the ‘backgrounds’ of the pedophile priests in it’s ranks. Since the majority of victims were male the pretence was to prove some sort of ‘gay infiltration’ of church ranks.

And what did the study of 14,000 U.S abuse cases find?

In a nut-shell there was no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children.

To blame homosexuals for the majority of the abuse is wrong and a sorry excuse.

Bye for now.


Lucia Maria said...

Dear Paul,

note that the numbers I quote above differentiate the pedophiles from the homosexuals. The homosexual sex abuse is typically aimed at older teenaged boys, as you would expect.

ZenTiger said...

Paul, I will repeat (in substance) Lucia's comment made above and in the post because your accusation is so widely off the mark:

You said:

In a nut-shell there was no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children.

To blame homosexuals for the majority of the abuse is wrong and a sorry excuse.

If I take what you said at face value, there is NOTHING of the sort there. Lucia said:

10% were pedophiles, 60% were homosexual attractions

(And 30% fall into heterosexual relationships with youths and older)

Notice that the stats for pedophiles is listed apart from the stats for other forms of sexual abuse.

This strongly indicates that they are separate categories.

Paul, if you were to have a point, it would only be if those numbers had been lumped together, which was not done.

The issue here is that the term "pedophilia" is widely taken by the public to mean the sexual molestation of pre-pubescent children, typically age 13 and under and those cases are thankfully rarer than assumed, as shown in the numbers above.

The nature of a pedophile is quite a bit different than sexual encounters with post-pubescent youths (male or female), so making this distinction is important, is it not?

On the other hand if you want to treat the definition of pedophilia as anyone age 17 and under (although the study may have included older people), then you would be forced to include the predominantly homosexual activity.

The report you cite was careful to treat pedophilia as an issue around pre-pubescent children.

Furthermore, I point out that Lucia's story focuses on the cases that were brought to the attention of the Vatican and carefully examined - some 3,000 of them. The reason they came to the Vatican was due to the work of the current Pope back in the early part of the 2000's to take away the ability of the local bishops in the USA, Ireland and other countries to manage (or ignore) these abuses. For too many years, the Vatican has had insufficient oversight of various country activities and it is certainly paying the price. It has allowed evil to flourish, but has been taking steps to curb it. The fact the Pope is being attacked rather than supported for his courage and decisive reforms, is very sad indeed.

BJ said...

Zen & Lucia
Thank you for this much needed statistical and associated clarity

ZenTiger said...

It's part of the story BJ, and the substance of the story is important, although you'll find that the statistics vary from country to country for various reasons.

It doesn't excuse the situation though, although the last few years has seen a strong process of trying to repair the damage, to make amends and to prevent this happening again (as much as possible).

For example, Paul above cites a Catholic Church funded Paper, he says 2009, but I suspect it's the one released in 2004 and updated over time (although the Church has been doing a lot of work in this area, maybe there's another paper I missed).

The numbers quoted by Lucia are specifically for the 3000 cases brought directly to the attention of the Vatican, and are cases that have extensive research behind them.

There are other numbers from studies (notably the USA and Ireland) where they report higher numbers of abuse.

However, without wanting to minimise the damage, it needs to be understood those numbers include a range of claims and allegations, from very minor right up to extreme.

They include varying degrees of physical abuse, of harassment, and of psychological abuse, as well as sexual abuse (The Irish studies covered all aspects, and were largely around educational institutions, orphanages etc).

The allegations cover a range of people working in these institutions, not just priests.

They cover improper behaviour from secular authorities, not just the Church.

In the US there were nearly 5,000 priests identified in various allegations, from 1928 to 2002 and an estimated 11,000 offences. Some were proven groundless, many not pursued because the priest had died (especially the old claims) and many pursued and we saw compensation settlements of hundreds of millions of dollars and schools closed down, parishes bankrupted in attempting to pay out on these claims.

It would be a strange idea to cite Church funded research papers and simultaneously argue that the culture of hiding away from these issues continues, without some recognition of the reforms and research conducted as part of the process to redress these wrongs.

ZenTiger said...

Ironically, an interesting story pops up that discusses how far the reality seems to be between open government as a concept and open government in practice - as I said, secular institutions have a long way to go on this score too.

the growing gulf between western politicians and people

(Via Holy Smoke in our sidebar)

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