Why are there so many abuse cases?

This question has been seriously bothering me lately. I think part of it is the unity of the Church in that, when one falls all fall(hopefully), while at protestant or less unified denominations it’s far easier to segregate the cases since they truly aren’t connected to each other. Although this has a flipside, a very evil one, in that because the Catholic Church is so, well, powerful…they have the abilities to move priests around and settle disputes in shady ways that other churches simply don’t have the resources to do.

I know this is an awkward first post(though I did have an account here under “blankface” a while back) but the reason I ask is because I just recently discovered that NUNS from the order of the Sisters of Nazareth have been implicated in HUNDREDS of cases between nuns and far underage girls. This is important to me because my Great Aunt was a Mother Superior of a convent here in America. I always thought the sisters of the Catholic Church maintained a truer sense of devotion that was lost on many priest, probably becuase many the nuns I’ve met have just been some the most inspiring women a person can meet.I’ve always thought the heart of the church lied in the women, but that’s another thread.

But then I googled “Sex abuse cases nuns” out of curiosity. Then all of a sudden I see these cases popping up, and shockingly they are within the order (the one’s i’ve seen so far in australia, not here, Thank the LORD) of sisters of Nazareth (my aunt’s), although there are many cases of nun abuse in America as well.

I used to be of the mindset that the bishops let a few perverts slip through in ordination. But it’s not a few, it’s not hundreds, it’s THOUSANDS. I honestly can’t read through some of the testimonies/ depositions of the victims. It’s not just fondling and groping, but some seriously heinous acts that I can’t even infer on a forum like this.

I’m sorry to make my fellow Catholics uncomfortable, but how do you deal with this?


How are you judging “so many”? I believe, proportionally, Catholic priests/nuns are no worse than their secular counterparts at those times/places.

Perhaps the unspoken question you are asking is why Catholics don’t exhibit a much better track record in this regard?

That question itself rests on a number of assumptions that perhaps need to be looked at more closely. For example:
(1) Does “church” necessarily make us “better” than the non-churched - and does this happen quickly or does it take a lifetime to achieve?
(2) Does holiness, at rock bottom, consist of something more than outward “moral perfection.”
(3) Does grace mean we do not have to deal with our broken humanity wisely?
(4) If the abused often turn out to be abusers themselves … why do we so easily demonise all abusers and call them evil. In some sense (I am not denying their responsibility) they are victims at the same time.

There are 402,000+ Priests on earth. In any city of that size, there would be at least that many cases of abuse, as well as robberies, murders, thefts and all manner of crime. There is zero excuse for a holy man to offend against the most vulnerable among us, but it is a reflection of Pope Paul VI’s statement that the devil enters the Church like smoke through cracks. Far too much of the world has crept into the Church. However, take heart! The Church is in the midst of a reformation. The medicine is at the ready, and the broom is held in reserve for those who refuse the medicine.

For those who may not believe in the the one behind all evil on this earth, the corruption of both Priest and religious, involving children, is evidence only of the evil one’s relentless assault upon all that is good and holy. It is troubling only if nothing were being done about it. As we see from the Catholic news sources, the hammer is coming down and there will be a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth in the near future. Yet, surgery is always painful, but then the recovery begins anew.

Be at peace. The Lord is in charge and has set true reformers in place.

Let me preface my comments by saying that the only acceptable number of abuse cases is “0”, especially by our trusted clergy. However, we need to keep in mind that clergy are people too, and accordingly flawed and sinful. The following is in no way meant to condone those henious acts, but rather to put them into some perspective, which helps me to deal with this scandal.

In a statement read out by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi in September 2009, the Holy See stated “We know now that in the last 50 years somewhere between 1.5% and 5% of the Catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases”, adding that this figure was comparable with that of other groups and denominations

A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Dr. Thomas Plante of Stanford University and Santa Clara University states that “approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor” which “is consistent with male clergy from other religious traditions and is significantly lower than the general adult male population which may double these numbers”. Additionally, according to Newsweek magazine, the figure in the Catholic Church is similar to that in the rest of the adult population.


Between 1950 and 2002, there were reports of abuse against 4392 priests in the United States. The 4,392 priests who were accused amount to approximately 4% of the 109,694 priests in active ministry during that time. The allegations were substantiated for 1,872 priests and unsubstantiated for 824 priests. They were thought to be credible for 1,671 priests and not credible for 345 priests. 298 priests and deacons who had been completely exonerated are not included in the study.
Although there were reported acts of sexual abuse of minors in every year, the incidence of reported abuse increased by several orders of magnitude in the 1960s and 1970s. There was, for example, a more than sixfold increase in the number of reported acts of abuse of males aged 11 to 17 between the 1950s and the 1970s. After peaking in the 1970s, the number of incidents decreased through the 1980s and 1990s even more sharply than the incidence rate had increased in the 1960s and 1970s.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2004), “Executive Summary”, The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950–2002, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


I agree with all of these answers! My answer to the question is, the devil, Satan, or whatever name he is going by today. He is real and trying his best to come into our lives. Just keep praying, and being aware. I like to start my day invoking the names of the Holy Trinity. and the little prayer, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad” - We adore you Oh,Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world." When time permits, I try to do more, but that gets me started on the right foot for the day. God Bless, and Keep the Faith !

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