Vocations and Allegations of Sexual Abuse


Let’s imagine a young catholic guy out there. This guy is considering a vocation to the priesthood.
He is reflecting on the risks. Why should he reasonably even continue to pursue a possible call from God in this direction if he has to expect the following situation one day:
He has served the Church faithfully for 21 years.
Then he is having a heavy dispute with some of his parishioners.
Half a year later, one anonymous caller contacts the diocesan abuse prevention office and tells:
‘Priest has molested me 20 years ago at St. John Doe’s parish in Farfaraway, Nowhere County, WY.’
The priest gets suspended and will never again be able to serve in a parish. Caller gets new parish priest.
Half a year later, he gets indicted and sued by A Advocates for sexual abuse 20 years ago at St. Pamela, Dust Creek, Water Valley, HI, gets convicted and has to pay 1 M (because a) victims are not to be neglected b) victims don't lie). Diocese get sued, too, and has to pay 100000 . ‘Victim’ gets new mansion and another parish priest. A Adocates has expanded it’s fortune, too.
He is discouraged by these considerations. He hopes to be ready for physical martyrdom but does not expect to be able to sustain such happenings.
Under this circumstances, why should he consider a vocation to the priesthood?


Well first and foremost priests and really all of us should never put ourselves at risk of being in a situation like that. When I say this I mean that I should never be alone with a woman, teenager, or child. This takes away most of all the risk involved as you always have witnesses around. If you are a priest and have to hear a confession then tell your secretary or someone else so that they know you are hearing a confession. The point is that a priest needs to take safeguards against these things.

Honestly for me hearing about the sex scandals made me want to be a priest even more. I want to but persecuted for the Kingdom of God and I don’t care if people spit on me, hate me, kill me what ever I can do for the Kingdom I shall do! The Church needs priests who really want to be priests, who are strong in God and don’t care about persecution, who are here to save souls.

That’s why we want to be priests and will work our butts off to do so.

God bless

Oh, victims can and do lie. I know of a teacher who was lied about, found innocent, and only after the trial did the two boys admit they made the story up. But he was hurt by their lies and resigned. It’s a shame, too, because he was one of the favorite teachers at the school. All the kids looked forward to being in 8th grade so they’d be in his class.

This is why priests need to do everything they can to protect themselves and the Church from scandal. Do not be alone with another person’s child.

I think JeffersonD hit it on the head. In this sue-happy age I think the priests need to let others know whats going on. If they are hearing confessions then someone needs to know. They don’t need to be there but they should be in the area and have knowledge of what is going on. If someone wants to meet with a priest then they do it in a building where there are more people and the secretary or whomever may be around knows that a meeting is going on. It sucks that a few bad priests have given the whole a bad name.

Priests give alot up to serve God and us and I have the utmost respect for their sacrifices. They do more than I would ever be able to.

It also depends on the type of person the priest is…lets say he’s a really masculine and holy individual it wouldn’t make any sense that he would be accused of sex abuse. That’s my take on it…

I agree with everything you have said except for the bolded part.

Its not just a few bad priests, it is also every single false accusation, they are just a bad, if not (IMO) worse as they destroy trust in the Church and the reputation of the priest that is falsely accused.

Because he is called by God? If the priesthood is his true vocation, then possible false accusations in the future are no reason to ignore the call.

By the way, a very similar scenario is possible for anyone, not just those in the priesthood. Do we avoid life because of possible issues in the future?



It would be very tough to have to live a defensive life, but many male care-givers are now doing just that. Male MD’s almost always have female chaperones in the room with them, no matter what part of the body they are examining. No man should touch a woman or child unnecessarily; the days of being physically familiar with women in the workplace are over , I hope. Much of the previous abuse took place in very suspicious settings, clergy having boys visit their houses or on camping trips or stay-overs, boys (and girls) in orphanages and children’s homes in Ireland, boys serving at the altar, alone with priests. Much of this has been completely removed, and severe restrictions, I am sure, govern the rest (altar boys). Nevertheless, priests are always going to have to be on guard. Along with counselors, teachers, and health care providers.

One thing I’ve always said is that when someone is accused of molesting a child they are all over the front page of a newspaper, but if found not guilty or if the accuser comes forward saying they falsely accused the person it ends up on the last page in small print. I agree with you.

If only that were so. Anyone can be accused; Fr. Marcial Maciel had a pretty macho, holy persona and created a ‘legion’ of disciplined, ascetic clergy who were supposed to be ever-loyal to the Holy Father and the Church.

We all know how that story ended.

Right on. Enough of this, “What’s in it for me?”-approach to vocations.

Your scenario is far-fetched and does not happen like that. Plain and simple.

It’s called real evidence, not hearsay. And anonymous callers are meaningless.

And if nothing has ever happened, there will be no such allegations.

I am 55, Catholic all my life and I am a first year seminarian.

I’m proud of it. As any man, young or older should be, when he hears God’s call to him.

I look forward to the day of my ordination, and the many years beyond.

The scandal is sad, tragic and sick…it is less than 1 percent of active priests. Remember that. And don’t let the 99 percent affect how you think of great priests.

If only this were true I know of at least 5 priests/religious who were falsely accused but once the accusation came in the bishop ordered that they be removed from active ministry.

My own Order has a rule that once an accusation comes in the priest/religious is removed from active ministry and then the investigation starts. What is different with my Order is that if the accusation is unfounded (or proved to be a lie) the priest/religious is restored to active ministry.

I know some bishops will not allow such in their dioceses.

I know it seems unfair, but due to the priests who HAVE harmed children and the bishops who moved them around, now the Church MUST side with the victim immediately. What is worse? To remove a priest from active ministry and reinstate him when found not guilty, OR possibly allow another child to be molested by a priest they allow to remain working until proven guilty? I’m afraid the clergy must suffer this in reparation for those priests who harmed children which in turn harmed the Church.

I have no problem with the way this is to work, that is when there is a reinstatement when found not guilty but some dioceses will not do this. There will be no reinstatement.

Exactly. If they do, the secular media will certainly fabricate the next so-called scandal: “Credibly accused” allowed to return to ministry.

BTW: If I were on the “what is in there for me” trip, I’d study law and sue the Church …

I know what you mean, and as for the clergy, the genuinely good priests we have world over, who are suffering in reparation for the bad priests who have harmed kids, are suffering with great grace, dignity and courage. Many a great saint has paid pennance for the sins of others and thats what the good priests are now doing. I have friends who are top quality priests and evey time I hear a sick joke about priests being pedophiles (usually told by someone who’d be happy to pick up their moral pitch fork and join the angry mob publically when someone is accused but doesnt mind privately making cheap jokes at the expense of some poor kid who has genuinely been abused) I think of my friends who are good and decent Christian men and I feel so angry and hurt that people will look at them and make unfair judgements about them, and yet the priests deal with it better than I do lol.

Here in Ireland the percentage is nearer 70 % than one.

Too much sweeping things under the carpet and too much defensiveness…

Mass attendance in Dublin as a consequence is down to 3 % now.

The Catechism says that sin in any one part of the Chruch affects the whole Church and we are seeing the fruit of that sin here now.

The victims must come first if we are to be truly Catholic. And there can be no defensiveness. Only humility now will avail.

Interesting. I had not heard that statistic before. At least 37% of priests molested children in Ireland? I don’t suppose you have a study that can show me those statistics, do you?

Mass attendance in Dublin as a consequence is down to 3 % now.

What was Mass attendance in Dublin before the scandal broke?



I checked the figures last night … via the main Reports done here. In fact the figure of priests who abused is just over 79 %.

Not sure re the stats before the abuse, but a generation ago all the main Churches in Dubin were crowded at every Mass and on Sundays there was a mass every hour. google Archbishop Martin whose words are a lone voice crying in the wilderness here now as each Diocese is losing priests to death and almost none being ordained. The situation here now is very bad indeed. Caused by the abuse.

Any chance you can point me to the official studies that give that number? Are those priests that have been proven to have abused or does it include those who have been accused?

Not sure re the stats before the abuse, but a generation ago all the main Churches in Dubin were crowded at every Mass and on Sundays there was a mass every hour. google Archbishop Martin whose words are a lone voice crying in the wilderness here now as each Diocese is losing priests to death and almost none being ordained. The situation here now is very bad indeed. Caused by the abuse.

Well, a generation ago isn’t when the scandal broke. That happened in the last couple of years, I believe. What was Mass attendance 5 years ago? 10 years ago? My guess is that Mass attendance was way less 10 years ago than it was a generation ago.



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.