Author Topic: "It Ain't Just Catholic Priests": Resources on Shocking Statistics of Clergy Sexual Abuse  (Read 33507 times)

Offline Dave Armstrong

  • Network Apologist
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3878
  • Arminian, Baptist-like Evangelical; Catholic: 1990
    • View Profile
    • Biblical Catholicism (booksite)

See my previous related paper (it provides access to 838 detailed Protestant clergy abuse reports: see the primary source).

Clergy Sexual Abuse (Frances Park)It is commonly believed that clergy sexual abuse is an exclusively Catholic problem that does not happen in other churches. In a 1983 doctoral thesis by Richard Blackmon, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner and 38% admitted to other sexualized contact with a parishioner.When Mentor Becomes Molester (Alexa Smith)
Reprinted with permission from Presbyterians Today, magazine of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).The Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) estimates that there are about 50 clergy sexual misconduct cases every year. Although cases in the PCUSA tend to involve adult women and male pastors, there are sometimes cases reported that involve children and other men.When Trust Is Betrayed: Understanding Sexual Abuse by Clergy (James Poling)

This article has been reproduced from Interpreter Online, the electronic companion to The United Methodist Interpreter magazine.   Reprinted with permission from Interpreter Copyright © January 1997.   All rights reserved.How widespread is it?

Some studies indicate that 10 to 20 percent of all clergy have had sexual involvements with parishioners. Still more admit engaging in inappropriate sexualized emotional relationships that stopped short of physical expression. There are some indications that sexual abuse by clergy is increasing, perhaps because of sexual freedom gained from recent societal changes.Large collection of articles (Advocate Web)

Sexual Abuse: How Congregations Find Healing (Jody Veenker), Christianity Today, August 9, 1999

Article detailing cases of sexual abuse in Orthodox Churches

Episcopalians: Penthouse Expose Could Spark Church Teaching (Ted Olsen), Christianity Today, December 9, 1996

Data Shed Light on Child Sexual Abuse by Protestant Clergy (Associated Press, June 16, 2007, New York Times) [see also a related URL]The three companies that insure a majority of Protestant churches say they typically receive upward of 260 reports a year of children younger than 18 being sexually abused by members of the clergy, church staff members, volunteers or congregants.
Preachers Accused of Sins, and Crimes: ABC News Investigation Uncovers Predators in Protestant Churches,  Jim Avila, Bonnie Van Gilder, and Matt Lopez, April 13, 2007 (ABC News / 20/20) [see also a related URL]  [concentrates on Southern Baptists][A] six-month investigation by "20/20" found Protestant ministers, supposed men of God from every denomination, sexually abusing the children who trusted them. The investigation uncovered "preacher predators" in every corner of the country.
Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy: A Moral Panic (Religious Tolerance.Org / Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance)Abuse Rate: Few people seem to be asking whether sexual abuse of children is more common in the Roman Catholic church than in Protestant churches or other faith groups. Philip Jenkins, author of "Pedophiles and Priests" found no evidence that the incidence of child molestation among Roman Catholic priests was any greater than within other Christian denominations.

Magnitude: Using terms like "The Sins of the Fathers," some in the media are implying that child sexual abuse by priests is extremely common throughout the U.S. church. The best estimates that we have seen indicate that only a few percent of priests abuse children. As Pope John Paul II stated, the panic casts a "dark shadow of suspicion over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty.''

. . .  Hebephilia: Little attention is being given to the exact nature of clergy abuse. The panic seems to be focusing on abusive pedophilia -- the sexual molestation of pre-pubertal children by priests. Yet most of the abuse appears to be by abusive hebephiles -- adults attracted to post-pubertal adolescents. "[In] other than isolated cases like the Boston one, the overwhelming majority of cases involve gay priests who have been sexually active with young seminarians or 16- or 17-year-old boys. While such homosexual activities with minors are criminal offenses -- and immoral -- they are certainly not examples of pedophilia or child molestation."

. . . Public bias: The public may view sexual abuse by priests very differently from similar crimes by Protestant clergy. The Roman Catholic Church is generally seen as a monolithic organization with a clearly defined rigid hierarchy. Thus a case of abuse becomes a "Roman Catholic scandal" rather than a local parish problem. A similar molestation in a Protestant church would probably be viewed as a local problem isolated to a single congregation, because of the decentralized nature of most Protestant churches.Sex scandals also affect Protestant clergy [scroll down a little]
By Richard N. Ostling, AP Religion Writer - April 4, 2002Penn State historian Philip Jenkins argued in his 1996 book, Pedophiles and Priests, that both secular and Catholic media exaggerate the extent of Catholic cases involving minors, while downplaying Protestant abuse.
. . . Jenkins, an Episcopalian, thinks a 1992 survey from the Chicago Archdiocese is more representative of the true picture in Catholicism.
Among 2,252 priests serving over four decades, 39 priests (1.7 percent) apparently abused minors. Only one abuser could be termed a pedophile under the strict, clinical definition of the word — meaning the victim was prepubescent.
"I am prepared to be convinced the Catholics have a bigger problem" than Protestants, Jenkins said, but nobody has good data, partly because Protestant groups are too numerous. "I certainly haven't seen anything, and I'm looking hard."
. . . The conservative World magazine says Protestantism faces a "severe problem" of clergy involvement with people the ministers are counseling, calling this "an egregious abuse of power."Breaking Faith [scroll down about a third of the way]
By Lynn Vincent  - Cover Story - World Magazine  March 30, 2002 As sexual scandal rocks the Roman Catholic church, Protestants face a lurking sex scandal as well. Will churches and national organizations take biblical steps to prevent further shame?

. . . No current theological breakdown of offending pastors exists, but a 1984 Fuller Seminary survey of 1,200 ministers showed one in five theologically conservative pastors admitting to some sexual contact outside of marriage with a church member, while over two-fifths of "moderate" and half of "liberal" pastors owned up to the same. A Journal of Pastoral Care article summarizing a 1993 survey of Southern Baptist pastors showed 6 percent acknowledging sexual contact outside of marriage with someone in the congregation. Roy Woodruff, executive director of the 3,000-member Association of Pastoral Counselors, estimates that about 15 percent of pastors "either have [violated] or are violating sexual ethical boundaries."
Collection of articles on clergy sexual abusers: "Protestants Face Sexual Abuse Failures Too" (PeaceMakers.Net)

Sex Abuse Spans Spectrum of Churches,  Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor,  April 5, 2002The surveys suggest that over the past decade, the pace of child-abuse allegations against American churches has averaged 70 a week. The surveys registered a slight downward trend in reported abuse starting in 1997, possibly a result of the introduction of preventive measures by churches.

. . . James Cobble, executive director of CMR, who oversees the survey, says the data show that child sex-abuse happens broadly across all denominations– and that clergy aren't the major offenders.

"The Catholics have gotten all the attention from the media, but this problem is even greater with the Protestant churches simply because of their far larger numbers," he says.
Where does the Baptist buck stop?: Southern Baptists acknowledge abuse among churches
(Terry Mattingly: Leadership U., June 19, 2002)The clergy sexual abuse statistics were staggering.

Local reports from angry, hurt and humiliated laypeople were too horrifying to ignore.

. . . "The incidence of sexual abuse by clergy has reached 'horrific proportions,' " according to a 2000 report to the Baptist General Convention of Texas. It noted that studies conducted in the 1980s found that about 12 percent of ministers had "engaged in sexual intercourse with members" and nearly 40 percent had "acknowledged sexually inappropriate behavior."
Rabbi's Odyssey Reflects Struggle on Sexual Abuse: Jews Begin to Confront Silence That Hid Clergy's Misdeeds (Alan Cooperman), Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 2, 2003; Page A17

Rabbi Sidney Goldenberg appears in court in December 1996, accused of abusing a 12-year-old girl. He later pleaded no contest to one count.  (File Photo/ Mark Aronoff -- Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Black churches protect predators while neglecting victims (Marian Hubbard Jefferson), Louisiana Weekly, August 6, 2007

Risk Management: Protestants Confront Sexual Abuse (John Dart), The Christian Century, © 2002 Christian Century Foundation.Another reason non-Catholic churches have for the most part slipped under the national media radar, experts suggest, is that the removal of a Protestant pastor for sexual scandal is often only a local story. A more significant difference in the attention to Protestant and Catholic cases, according to James F. Cobble Jr., executive director of Christian Ministry Resources, is that Catholic dioceses usually have large insurance coverage for their parishes. That increases the likelihood of litigation, and a bigger spotlight on the offenses and the church's responses.
Baptist pastors speak out on clergy sex abuse, DallasNews Religion, April 12, 2007. . . In recent weeks, Southern Baptists have scrambled to respond to a rising number of its ministers who have been arrested for abusing children. The president of the national convention, Frank Page of Taylors, SC, issued a statement this month calling on "every local church to develop written policy guidelines for the care of children and youth . . . [and] to have a system or policy in place to deal with any accusations made."
Clergy Who Molest: Unique Study Reveals Epidemic, Freethought Today, May 1990.. . . a first-of-its-kind study of recent cases of molesting clergy and church staff conducted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

. . . Of the accused clergy, 75 were Catholic priests (39.5%) and 111 were Protestant ministers (58%).
Clergy Sexual Abuse (Fish Eaters)

Clergy Abuse: Rabbis, Cantors & Other Trusted Officials (Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse / Assault) [446 specific cases documented]

The First Baptist Church of Romeoville canceled Sunday services in the wake of the resignations including that of convicted sex offender Jeff Hannah (inset). (Brian Jackson/Sun-Times)
[see story]

Stop BaptistPredators.Org: Shining Light on Baptist Clergy Sex Abuse [lots of documentation]

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests:

SNAP Press Statement: Statement Regarding Clergy Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Convention, June 14, 2006

Child sex abuse by Protestant clergy difficult to document: Large number of denominations, nature of hierarchy make task elusive, William Moyer, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, August 27, 2007But tracking allegations and confirmed cases of misconduct by Protestant clergy is an elusive task because Christianity's other ecclesiastical division is wildly diverse, congregational and sometimes staunchly independent compared to Catholicism's centralized hierarchy.

John and Monica Iliff

Family struggles with clergy sex abuse, October 17, 2007 (WJBC radio station) [includes audio files]
When you think of clergy sexual abuse, people often think of older adults and young children. However, a couple from Bloomington says their son would have been 26 last week, but Eric Iliff never made it because he said he as abused at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York. They say the scars he suffered never healed.

Eric took his own life at a Normal hotel last March, surrounded by family photos and a Bible. His parents consider that a sign that he never lost faith.

Administrators removed Father Timothy Blumentritt from his position once Eric told them he was abused. He was later defrocked by the Church.

Sex Abuse by Clerics - A Crisis of Many Faiths: While sexual misconduct has rocked many religions, leaders of some have acted far more quickly than others
LA Times/March 25, 2003 (Teresa Watanabe)

The wave of clergy sex scandals now engulfing the Roman Catholic Church has battered other denominations as well, . . .

In the last decade, clergy sexual misconduct has been exposed in virtually every faith tradition. National studies have shown no differences in its frequency by denomination, region, theology or institutional structure.

. . . In faith after faith, the problem of clergy misconduct was exposed during the past 10 to 15 years because victims began stepping forward, plaintiffs began winning large awards and insurers began demanding policies to prevent abuse.

A Call for a Reporting Policy on Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Church (Christos and Mary Papoutsy), Hellenic Communication ServiceThe Greek Orthodox Church has certainly been affected by such scandals, as the headlines of national newspapers and Internet websites will attest. The National Herald reported recently that that "the Holy Synod [of the Orthodox Church] is preparing to discuss old sexual scandals that have reemerged, according to high-ranking ecclesiastical officials at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Individuals have already contacted the archdiocese asking for monetary compensation in [the] millions of dollars."

. . . The Orthodox Church of America (OCA), a separate entity from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has had its share of scandalous abuses. Greta Larson of California, whose own children were molested by a monk of the OCA in California, created a website, "Protection of the Theotokos: A Site for Victims of Abuse in the Orthodox Church," several years ago to publicize abuses by Orthodox priests and clergy ( Larson gathers and posts all instances of Orthodox abuse worldwide, citing a need to monitor fringe Orthodox groups that are uncanonical and to develop a clearinghouse for information about abusers who frequently cross ecclesiastical jurisdictional lines to avoid detection and punishment.Collection of scores of articles about sexual abuse in the Orthodox Churches (

Broken links, but articles in magazines:

"Why do we cover this?", Marvin Olasky   - Cover Story - World Magazine,   March 30,  2002

"N.C. Bishop Resigns, Admits Misconduct", The Lutheran, monthly publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, July 1996

"Theme: Clergy Sexual Abuse", The Lutheran - June 2002

For more excerpts from the above data, see my lengthier blog paper:
My blog,  Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, contains 2500+ papers & 50+ separate web pages. I'm a full-time author / apologist. Also two Facebook pages and a Twitter account. Over 40 books of mine are available in ePub /  mobi ($4.99), & PDF ($1.99) formats; also 15 free radio interviews. Info. & instant purchase at:

Offline BodRod

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 432
    • View Profile
While poking around the Internet a few months ago, I came across the web sites of the two insurance companies whose major business is to insure churches. I found that according to THEIR figures, non-Catholic claims about sexual abuse were running 13% higher than Catholic claims. That does NOT excuse the behavior of our priests nor does it make the activity less criminal or less of a sin. However, it does present a different view of the problem than that which is generally perceived by the public!

Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.


  • Guest
Let's face it … the Catholic Church is a big target with big pockets.  Most Protestant churches are individual corporations.  In the Catholic Church, the diocese is the corporation, so it has a big bank account.  When legal action is involved, the media focus on dollar amounts, and the Catholic Church has deep pockets because of its financial structure.

Statistically, schools and scout troops and youth sports programs have a much greater incidence of abuse than any church, and Protestant churches have a greater incidence of abuse than Catholic churches.  But the Catholic lawsuits are bigger.  And that draws media attention.

The Catholic pastor of a congregation of 3500 is likely to draw more attention than a Protestant pastor of 150, or a Boy Scout troop leader of 25, or a teacher of 20.  It's the nature of the media.

Offline JillD

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 719
  • 1985-various Protestant, 2007-Catholic
    • View Profile
So, why doesn't some smart lawyer figure out some way to make those deep pockets inaccessible; some sort of restructuring??

"I praise you, for I am wondrously made.  Wonderful are our works!  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret."   Ps 139
"Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men."  Ps 140

Offline Ken Follis

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Didn't the John Jay Institute do a study that showed that from 1950 to 2006 there were approximately 4500 US pedophile priest cases reported? If all these cases were proven to be legitimate how does it correlate with the fact that there have been approximately 100,000 US priests during that time? 4500:100000 (c. 4.5%)  If accurate, we've had a great many holy men of God.;)
Jer. 6:16 "Stand, Look, Ask and Walk!"

Offline BodRod

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 432
    • View Profile
It is NOT a priest problem. It is a human problem. It crosses all walks of life and all social strata.

Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.


  • Guest
Quote from: JillD
So, why doesn't some smart lawyer figure out some way to make those deep pockets inaccessible; some sort of restructuring??
First of all, it would change the entire character of the Church.  Each congregation would have to be independent, which would give them the authority to hire their own priests and decide how much to pay them.  That would mean pastors would be answerable to the church board rather than to the bishop, and we would be in the same shape as the Protestants.  Just think if your local parish council could tell your pastor how to run the church.  It might not have a drastic effect right away, but once control was relinquished, there would be no way to get it back.  Currently, the bishop of a diocese is the President and CEO of the corporation; each parish is a subsidiary corporation, and the parent is responsible for the child.  Because of that, the church and rectory are property of the diocese, and so the diocese literally controls everything including buildings, finances, and even the pastor.  If the bishop orders him out and he refuses to go, he can be charged with trespassing.  If the parish was a completely separate corporation, that leverage would be gone, and the bishop would effectively lose control.

Second, it could not be retroactive.  The abuse took place under the current structure, so no restructuring could be made retroactively.

Offline Ali

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 712
  • Former JW, now Catholic
    • View Profile

Everyone was quick to jump on the anti-Catholic bandwagon when this broke, now it is only to obvious that this crosses religious lines.  Like Criff said, this is a human problem.


~I found grace, it's all that I found
And I can breathe~
Breathe by U2

Offline EMarshallBuckles

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 935
    • View Profile
Long before I knew much about the Roman Catholic Church, I was very much aware that Protestant churches have had problems with philandering clergy, even those who were married, and sexual molestation of young people and children.  In fact, the Protestant churches probably do "leave the Catholic Church in their dust", so to speak, in outdoing Catholics in sexual abuse matters.  Also, my wife is a Senior Child Protective Services Social Worker of 30 years experience. While she does not violate confidentiality, in a general, appropriate manner, I am aware that she and her coworkers have had to work hard dealing not only with physical and emotional abuse of children and young people, but also sexual abuse cases as well, some of them involving Protestant ministers (no Catholic Priests, so far). They have also had to deal, at times, with occult ritual abuse cases as well.  And all of these child abuse incidents seem to be growing steadily worse. Our nation, people of all religions and those with none, is going to HAVE to start getting these matters under control or we are going to FALL, in my humble opinion. May God help us! 
"The Lord preserveth the simple"

Offline Peace2U

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
I have argued this point on other sites many times.
Someone was very harsh on one site and said how he would never enter a Catholic Church or allow his children to...because of the "priest abuse" situation.
I asked him if he would ever allow his children then to enter a public school or if he felt that the entire "philosophy" behind public school systems was wrong...
He couldn't believe that the problem wasn't just in the Catholic Church - but as has been pointed out here - is a Human problem...that crosses over many different areas.
He wanted a specific example and I said to just type in the name of any city in the United States and then the words "teacher accused of sexual abuse".

All of that being said though  - It is a problem that "shouldn't exist" and has caused much grief for people who share our faith and even more problems for those who don't - and who are still trying to understand the Catholic Faith.  Rather than trying to "defend" things - everything and anything must be done to correct this.
I am glad - to some extent- that these things have been brought into the light.
There can be no more hiding of these situations or trying to move priests from one parish to another....and that is a good thing. 

Offline BodRod

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 432
    • View Profile
I found a couple of web sites of insurance companies which specialize in insurance for the clergy and churchs. From what I read, I gathered that there are 13% more complaints about abuse from non-Catholic clergy than from Catholic clergy. Strange how that has never made it into the public news!!!  ;)
Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.

Offline Steven Barrett

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3044
  • One day a Prince of the Church flew into my yard.
    • View Profile
    • Natures's Heirlooms
It looks like the Neo-Know-Nothings are at it again. Maybe they're bored when they need to rely on cartoons linking Roman Polanski, Pope Benedict and the Church's problems pedophilia and of course, Polanski's. Well, recently the Amherst, MA Bulletin ran a cartoon that it received through the "good offices" of cartoon syndicator Darly Cagle who's also with MSNBC. (The cartoon hasn't appeared on the paper's online edition.)

I'll let the linked material do the talking.

How many times do good and innocent Catholics have to keep pulling the ball and chain of a miniscule number of miscreant and sick priests around? The mainstream press which would like the world to think of itself as so erudite on this issue fails to remember that one man's or even a thousand men's sins cannot cause a single dent in the Truth of Scripture and the Church's Teachings any more than the sins of Protestant ministers can dent the Truth of Scripture (their premier claim of ultimate authority.)

Why don't we start asking what the sins of media have done to their authority? Duck, you might get hit by a flying roll'd up Bill of Rights.

It was never my intention to get this involved again because I'm so fed up with the writing/politiking and the nastiness when there are so many more positive things I could put my writing to. But the deliberately racheted level of outright anti-Catholic bigotry got to me.

And I hope it gets to a lot more people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike -- so they get off their easy chairs and, yes, raise a little hell!
If one is not praying to God, he is praying to the devil.  Pope Francis

Offline deborahssong

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 557
  • Deborahssong
    • View Profile

Of course I have said this before, but it bears repeating!  Sexual abuse of children, is NOT a denomination or a priest, issue. Its is the heart of man without God!  scripture says so and when people are far from Him, we are subject to all sorts of abuses. I (personally)was a target for an elderly baptist deacon, and his wife, at the age of 6.  From what I have learned when this occurs to a child, it opens up a world to them that they were not ready for!!!!  That there young minds were NEVER suppose to have thought of.  And you betcha satan is all in that!!!!  he roams about roaring like a lion seeking whom he may dvour!  and that includes kids!
       It is so sad to me to hear the victims all talk about compensation in dollar signs!  all of the money in the world did NOT bring healing to me or could have.  Only the Blood of Jesus made me free!  Once and for all. He gave me the ability to forgive that old man and his wife, to feel so badly for him. what a tormented soul he must have been.  Jesus is freedom!  I mean He released my heartache, and I have never had to look back, other than share how freeing His love and mercy really is!  I dont care what the world says, we surely can be free and healed. yes we can!  NOW do I  think these priests, men should be accountable ? yes of course. BUt not by making the church pay millions of dollars.  These men need a deliverance in their souls!  and that is where the focus should be for the church.  The mens souls!!!!! and  helping the victims souls as well.  Their spiritual walks....amen! That is what brings true and total healing!!! Thanks for this topic. always give me the chance to share the freeing Blood of Jesus!!!!  God bless...

Proverbs 4:23
Jeremiah 6:16
"stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it."....

Offline HarmonyServant

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 24
    • View Profile
Some of our local newspapers are filled with headlines about religious leaders who abused their authority by hurting children.  Since I am in a Protestant area, the majority of the guilty party are Protestant preachers.  One local Baptist preacher, recently convicted of sexual assult on a twelve year old, preached at a church only a few miles from my home.  This is frightening, folks. 

Child molestation is a huge problem, and yes, it spans everywhere.  Preachers, priests, schoolteachers, parents, etc, etc.  All classes and all walks of life have seen it, and it is a horrible crime.  I pray for the victims and their families.  I pray for the guilty party.