name is A. W. Richard Sipe (Aquinas Walter Richard). I am currently
involved in full-time research and consultation about celibacy and the
sexual practices of Roman Catholic clergy. I have authored six
books on the subject. Additionally, I have
served as a consultant and expert witness in over 200
cases involving sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic clergy.
have been a psychotherapist specializing in the counseling of clergy and
religious since 1964, and was a Psychiatrist Assistant certified in the
State of Maryland from 1982 to March 1, 1999, when I retired.
3. I was
professed as a Benedictine monk in 1953, and ordained a Roman Catholic
priest in 1959. I retired from religious life and the priesthood with the
permission of Rome in 1970.
I was ordained in 1959, my first assignment was as a teacher and counselor
in a parish high school. I became immediately aware of sexual activity by
priests and religious with both minors and adults. This revelation of a
secret system concealing the lack of celibate practice among some Catholic
priests and religious, prompted my interest in counseling. My work and
research, which continue through the present time, have expanded to
include celibate/sexual practices of Catholic priests, and their effect
upon lay adults and children.
1964, I received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and
the Danforth Foundation to study pastoral counseling for one year at the
1965 through 1967, I received a fellowship to study counseling and
psychotherapy of Catholic priests and religious at Seton Psychiatric
Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, a hospital owned and operated by
the Daughters of Charity a Catholic
community. Seton Psychiatric Institute was
established in 1844, and during the time I was there, was the leading
mental health facility in the United States for the treatment of Catholic
priests and religious. Thousands of priests and religious from around the
United States were referred by their bishops or religious superiors for
treatment at Seton Institute for various psychiatric problems.
1967, I was hired by Seton Psychiatric Institute to head its Department of
Family Services. I held this position until 1970, when I retired. From
1965 to 1970, I was personally involved with in-take conferences regarding
each new patient, including numerous Catholic priests and religious
some of whom were referred to the Institute to
avoid criminal prosecution for sexual involvement with minors. The
Institute closed in 1972.
the early 1950s, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota,
established its Institute for Mental Health. This Institute brought
together prominent psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and
Catholic clergy from all over the United States and, ultimately, nine
foreign countries. I was Executive Director of the Institute from
September 1, 1965 to August 30, 1969 (ancillary to my fellowship and
employment at Seton). During my Directorship, I spent to 4-10 days per
month at St. John’s, in addition to 4-5 weeks each summer supervising
workshops. During this time I was also designated Personnel Director of a
350-member religious community. St. John’s was the premier Catholic
facility in the United States for promoting the interaction between
psychiatry and clergy. St. John’s sponsored numerous one-week programs
each year involving six psychiatrists and 40 clergymen of all faiths,
although the largest proportion were Catholic priests and bishops. The
psychoanalytic dimensions of problems involving clergy were frequently
discussed in detail. Issues involving the sexual involvement of Catholic
clergy with minors were also discussed during these programs, especially
during staff conferences, in which clinicians shared their experiences and
Between September 1, 1967 and June 30, 1984, I taught at three major
Catholic seminaries, including a Pontifical seminary. Thereafter, I
continued to give lectures on how to achieve celibate practice at Catholic
seminaries, most recently in January 1996. In April 1996, I published a
manual for those who wish to practice a celibate lifestyle, Celibacy:
A Way of Loving, Living, and Serving. In November 2004 I
published a sequel, Living the Celibate Life: A Search for Models and
have been associated with a number of treatment facilities besides the
Menninger Foundation and Seton Psychiatric Hospital. These include
service on the Board of Directors of St. Luke Institute from 1986-1988;
Taylor Manor Hospital, where I served on the advisory board; and the North
Baltimore Mental Health Center, where I served on the staff.
held an appointment as Instructor in Psychiatry (part-time), at the Johns
Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry,
Baltimore, Maryland, for 25 years, until I submitted my resignation in
lectured and supervised the psychiatric fellows in the Child and
Adolescent program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,
Department of Psychiatry, from 1989-1993.
Beginning with my association with Seton Institute in 1965, I worked
closely with experienced psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, including my
mentor, Dr. Leo Bartemeier, (Cf. Collected papers,1970) who had consulted
with Catholic bishops and religious superiors for decades. I became
acquainted with numerous case histories involving sexual activity between
Catholic priests and minors extending back to 1917. Priests and Catholic
religious were treated in this hospital from 1923 onward by Dr. Thomas
Verner Moore who was a priest and a psychiatrist. His work at Seton and at
the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC was well known to
bishops throughout the US also because of his writing about the mental
health problems of priests in popular ecclesiastical journals even in
1936. The Archbishop of New York, Francis Spellman at the time, in 1946
initiated proceedings to establish a mental health hospital in his
archdiocese to care for problem priests. At the same time there were blue
prints for a similar hospital on the grounds of the Catholic University.
Although neither of these projects came to materialize it demonstrates
that Catholic bishops had an understanding and expectation that some
priests had sexual contact with minors even in the 1920s, 1930s, and
1940s. This topic will be explored in greater detail in other sections of
the five-year period of my association
with Seton psychiatric hospital, I was personally aware of numerous formal
and informal consultations with Catholic bishops and religious superiors
from across the United States who were concerned about sexual activity of
Catholic clerics with minors. The customary practice in Catholic dioceses
and congregations across the United States in response to abuse
allegations, was to transfer the offending priest out of his current
position into another position of clerical service, unless the situation
had come to the attention of civil authorities or threatened grave
scandal. In these latter instances, the priests or religious were sent to
a treatment facility, such as Seton, in order to avoid criminal
prosecution and/or to limit public exposure. In virtually all referrals
to Seton Institute for sexual contact involving minors, the precipitating
event was either a risk of public exposure, or a court-related referral.
main body of research, which began in 1960 as the study of celibacy, is
the study of sexual activity of Catholic priests and religious.
the years I have had a therapist/patient or consultative relationship with
more than 1,000 Catholic clerics, and more than 500 persons with whom
Catholic clerics have been sexually involved. I have conducted extensive
research, counseling, interviews, and reviews of case histories of more
than 2,700 clerics, and more than 2,000 victims of sexual abuse by
research and observation of sexual dynamics in the Catholic clergy has
been national in scope, involving men and women from numerous dioceses and
congregations. I have had broad national contact with Catholic clergy on
the issue of mental health and pastoral care. This contact has included
training programs on how to observe mental health problems in clergy.
Five dioceses and five religious congregations were particularly helpful
in establishing the baseline for my estimates of sexual/celibate behavior
of priests. While the specific individuals, dioceses, and congregations
must remain confidential, I have used this research to verify my
estimates, and to validate my opinions regarding the national picture of
celibate practice among Catholic clerics, the extent of sexual contact
with minors, and the Church’s efforts to conceal these facts from the
public. My estimates of clergy sexual misconduct with both minors and
adults are, in my opinion, conservative and can be measured against the
Survey of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests conducted by the
John Jay College of Criminal Justice (February 27, 2004).
II. Opinions to Be Expressed
18. It is my opinion that the RCAB adopted and
employed practices, policies and procedures that permitted and fostered
the sexual abuse of children by its priests. The
opinions that I will render in this case closely track the findings and
conclusions reached by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office as
expressly set forth in the report of July 23, 2003, entitled, The
Sexual Abuse of Children in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston
(hereinafter, “AG’s Report”), including its overarching conclusion
that “[f]or more than fifty years there has been an institutional
acceptance within the Archdiocese of clergy sexual abuse of children.” In
particular, I have reached the following conclusions and opinions
concerning the RCAB’s knowledge of sexual abuse of minors by its priests
and the RCAB’s practices, policies and
procedures for concealing that knowledge:
IV. Specialized Knowledge
to Be Applied to Facts of this Case
21. My expert opinions in this
case shall emanate from the application of my specialized knowledge to the
particularized facts of this case. My specialized knowledge cumulatively
comprises my professional experience, educational background, work
history, publications, and personal experience, all of which are detailed
in the foregoing background sections, as well as in my Curriculum Vitae,
a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit “A.” The specific
areas of specialized knowledge forming the bases of my opinions in this
case are my knowledge of (1) the expectation of clergy sexual abuse as
evidenced by the statistical magnitude of the problem; (2) the expectation
of clergy sexual abuse as evidenced by the proliferation of Catholic
treatment centers; (3) the expectation of clergy sexual abuse as endemic
to the Church’s policies, practices, and procedures in responding to
allegations of abuse; and (4) clergy sexual abuse as an expected
by-product of the necessity of concealing wide-spread sexual activity
(both abusive and non-abusive) of publicly pronounced “celibate” clergy
and religious. The substance of my specialized knowledge in these areas
includes the following:
Expectation of Clergy Sexual Abuse as Evidenced by the Statistical
Magnitude of the Problem
I entered the priesthood, the sexual activities of supposedly celibate
priests and religious were kept from the public by a closed system which I
refer to as the "celibate/sexual system." Clerics in a position of
responsibility within the Church were well aware of sexual activity by
Catholic clergy, including sexual activity with minors, because as
bishop/superior/vicar, they were aware of rumors, suspicions,
reports, and complaints, and had to deal with problems as they arose. In
the late 1950s, such knowledge left the closed
system, and entered into the psychiatric system. My professional
experiences in this latter system have allowed me to study and measure the
extent of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
Indeed, in 1976, Dr. Leo Bartemeier and I undertook to evaluate and to
quantify the scope of the problem of Catholic clergy sexual abuse
of minors. Dr. Bartemeier had been extensively
involved in consultation with Church authorities since the late 1920s.
Upon analysis of all of the available data, we estimated that 6% of all
Catholic clergy and religious had sexual activity with minors.
the data upon which these estimates were based has always been available
to the Catholic Church, clearly it always has been aware of both the
extent and expectancy of clergy sexual abuse of minors.
the time that Dr. Bartemeier and I arrived at these estimates, the terms
pedophilia and ephebophilia were not in common use, and the official
diagnostic manual for mental disorders regarded them as part of an overall
personality disturbance. However, as further evidenced by the following
section concerning the advent and development of treatment centers, this
did not mean that either professionals in the field, or Catholic bishops
and religious superiors, were unaware of the
behavior or its expectancy.
Expectation of Clergy Sexual Abuse as Evidenced by the Proliferation of
Catholic Treatment Centers
the early the 1950s, Fr. William Bier, a
Jesuit from Fordham University, advocated psychological testing of
candidates for the priesthood to eliminate problem priests, including
those who were sexually active. Fr. Bier’s writings and advocacy of the
use of screening tests reflected awareness within the Catholic Church that
sexual behaviors by men professing celibacy, were not merely expectable
spiritual problems, but contained psychological components as well.
Previously, if a priest engaged in sex, or fell in love, these were
considered ordinary and expected moral/spiritual problems. The growing
recognition of the psychological dimension of such moral/spiritual
problems coincided with the opening of Catholic treatment centers.
my own order, Thomas Verner Moore was the first Benedictine
priest/psychiatrist. Fr. Moore founded the Department of Psychiatry at
the Catholic University of America in the 1940s.
second Benedictine priest/psychiatrist was Fr. Jerome Hayden, who founded
the Marselan Institute in Massachusetts in the 1950s. The Marselan
Institute was the predecessor to St. Luke Institute. Under the management
of priest-psychiatrist, Michael Peterson the Marselan Institute evolved
from a treatment center for children, into a treatment center for priests
with behavioral problems. Fr. Peterson, a priest of the archdiocese of
Washington, also founded St. Luke Institute in Suitland, Maryland
(currently Hayattsville, MD). This institution, a fully accredited
psychiatric facility has 72 inpatient beds and frequently has had a
waiting list for admissions. Since 1986 it has specialized in the
treatment of psychosexual disorders.
Hartford Retreat (formerly known as the Asylum) was opened in 1822. This
center is now known as the Institute of Living. In 1954, Dr. Francis
Braceland became medical director of the Institute. Dr. Braceland was
vitally interested in the interface between religion and psychiatry, and
wrote a book on religion and psychiatry in the 1950s. Dr. Braceland also
consulted widely with bishops and religious superiors about psychiatric
problems in the priesthood, and encouraged referral of problem priests to
Servants of the Paraclete opened their first spiritual retreat center in
1947 in Jemez Spring, New Mexico, to care
for problematic priests; the renewal center in Nevis, Minnesota, followed
shortly thereafter. Through the work of the Paraclete, the Catholic
Church’s understanding of the likelihood of recidivism by abusers was
well-documented as early as 1952, when Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald,
founder of the Paraclete Order, wrote to Bishop Robert Dwyer, Bishop of
Reno, concerning a priest accused of sexual molestation of a young boy.
In this letter he stated directly what he thought should be done with such
I myself would be inclined to favor
laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with
the virtue of the young, my argument being, from this point onward, the
charity to the Mystical Body [a phrase meaning “the Church”] should
take precedence over charity to the individual and when a man has so
fallen away from the purpose of the priesthood the very best that should
be offered him is his Mass in the seclusion of a monastery. Moreover, in
practice, real conversions will be found to be extremely rare. Many
bishops believe men are never free from the approximate danger once they
Similarly, in 1957 Fr. Fitzgerald,
wrote to Archbishop Edwin Byrne (Santa Fe) to advise that he thought it
unwise to “offer hospitality to men who have seduced or attempted to
seduce little boys or girls.” He warned:
If I were a bishop I would tremble when I
failed to report them to Rome for involuntary laicization. Experience has
taught us these men are too dangerous to the children of the parish and
the neighborhood for us to be justified in receiving them here . . . .
They should ipso facto be reduced to lay men when they act thus.
In the 1960s and 1970s, still more treatment
centers for Catholic clergy opened, including the Southdown facility in
Toronto, Canada, the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts and
California, Domus Vitae in Connecticut, St. John Vianney in Pennsylvania
(1948) Eccelsia Center, Erie, Pennsylvania, the Foundation House,
Via Coeli, and Villa Martinez, etc.
cannot be overemphasized that psychosexual problems of priests were not a
new phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s. Rather, the increased
proliferation of treatment facilities coincided with the understanding
among U.S. bishops that such facilities provided an effective means for
handling the problems they had been dealing with all along, but within a
more exclusive and secretive atmosphere.
existence of Catholic treatment centers were widely known within the
Catholic community, and were used by bishops and religious superiors to
refer priests for psychological treatment. These treatment centers
included treatment regimes for psychosexual disorders involving minors.
Promotional literature advertising these centers was sent out periodically
to each bishop by many of the centers. The Paraclete treatment programs
were particularly well-advertised.
1976, the Servants of the Paraclete opened what was perhaps the first
program in the world with a treatment regime designed to treat
psychosexual disorders, including disorders involving the sexual abuse of
minors. The ability of the Catholic community to design and implement
such a cutting-edge program is both a reflection of the need for such a
program, and the degree of knowledge of the scope of clergy abuse. The
fact that preparations for the opening of this program were years in the
making, underscores the pervasive knowledge of existing sexual misconduct
with minors by Catholic clergy.
should be noted that the Paraclete program treats Catholic priests and
religious only upon recommendation by respective bishops or religious
superiors. The bishop or religious superior is responsible for all
treatment costs and is provided with periodic progress reports on the
Catholic priest or brother patient.
From all available sources, and my work and
research in the field, I have estimated that at least 2,000 priests
and religious have been treated for psychosexual disorders involving
minors in the past 40 years, at a cost of
over one hundred million dollars, despite
the fact that the central office of the USCCB concedes expenses of only
$800 million by 2004.
The Bishops Conference contributed money in the
1970s to the Paracletes to support the development of their program.
Since the goals and purposes of the treatment program were well known
within the Catholic hierarchy, the goals and purposes would have been
known to the Bishops Conference as well. The Bishops Conference also
issued directives regarding the retention or destruction of the treatment
reports provided to the Bishops—and the Paracletes and their staff
followed these directives. In a 1990 letter to bishops Father Liam
Hoare instructed bishops to destroy patient reports from his facility or
to return them to him for destruction. Contemporaneously Bishop A. J.
Quinn of Cleveland, a canon lawyer, addressed the American bishops and
advised them on various means of destroying and concealing
incriminating documents including sending them to the Apostolic
Nuncio's office in Washington DC where they would be protected from
investigation by political immunity.
Expectation of Clergy Sexual Abuse As Endemic to The Catholic Church’s
Policies, Practices, and Procedure in Responding to Allegations of Abuse
Based upon my
review of thousands of cleric files, I have observed a pattern of conduct
throughout the ecclesiastical entities in the United States. I anticipate
that my review of the documents provided to the Attorney General’s Office
will confirm that the same pattern of conduct existed in the RCAB
throughout the relevant time period. This pattern of conduct includes:
(1) assigning and reassigning known abusers; (2) failing to investigate
allegations according to proper canonical procedure; (3) failing to duly
report known criminal behavior to law enforcement authorities; (4) failing
to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the investigation of
abuse allegations; (5) failing to warn the parishes or communities when
transferring a known abuser from one assignment to another; (5) failing to
provide even fundamental psychological care to victims; (6) failing to
properly document accusations and reports of abuse; (7) failing to protect
accusers; and (8) failing to provide therapeutic intervention in a timely
manner for all. My review of the Ford Documents confirms the
existence of this pattern of conduct in the RCAB.
40. Under canon law and
customary practice, bishops and religious superiors proceed by way of
mutual consultation in carrying out their work (Canon 459). This
consultation should include the sharing of all information about the
clerics considered for assignment, including past problems and complaints
that may have a bearing on the cleric’s service.
41. This same pattern and
protocol for dealing with church pedophiles is also identified in recent
nationwide audits of dioceses conducted by the Catholic Church.
Following their meeting in Dallas in 2002, the Bishops of the United
States, through the United States Catholic Conference, authorized the
creation of a National Review Board for the Protection of Young People,
and further authorized a survey, statistical study, and report to be
completed through the facilities of John Jay College for Criminal
Justice. These reports have been completed and released in two (2)
extensive documents. The first document was entitled, The Nature and
Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and
Deacons in the United States (the “John Jay Report”) and contained a
statistical study. The second was entitled, A Report on the Crisis in
the Catholic Church in the United States (the “Report”). The
findings and conclusions of these reports support LMC’s claims and
defenses in this case. In the Report, under the section entitled
“The Response of U.S. Church Officials to Sexual Abuse of Minors by
Priests,” the Review Board concludes that approximately 4% of all clergy
in the United States have sexually abused minors. [estimated overall
totals range between 4% and 6%] The Review Board also records its finding
of “the inadequate response by bishops and other church leaders to this
problem over the last 25 years, including (1) inadequately dealing with
victims of clergy sexual abuse, both pastorally and legally; (2)
allowing offending priests to remain in positions of risk; (3)
transferring offending priests to new parishes or other dioceses without
informing others of their history; (4) failing to report instances of
criminal conduct by priests to secular law enforcement authorities,
whether such report was required by law or not; and (5) declining to take
steps to laicize priests who clearly had violated canon law.
See Report at p. 92.
42. Thus my personal observations,
as well as the conclusions of the Catholic Church’s own self-examination,
confirm a pre-existing pattern and practice within the hierarchy of
bishops of routinely accepting and recycling priests who have been accused
of sexually abusing children.
Abuse As an Expected By-Product of Concealment Wide-Spread Sexual Activity
(Both Abusive and Non-Abusive) of Publicly-Pronounced “Celibate” Priests
Celibacy, the state of non-marriage and the practice of "perfect
and perpetual" chastity, is a requirement for
ordination to the Catholic priesthood in the Latin Rite (Canon 277). The
Catholic bishop is mandated to supervise and assure compliance with this
requirement. Celibacy is an on-going requirement for the active
priesthood. This amounts to a certification that any active Catholic
priest is sexually safe. The bishops, religious superiors, and their
media operations in the United States have assiduously fostered this image
stated above, by 1976, Dr. Bartemeier and I were able to estimate that 6
percent of all Catholic priests and religious involved themselves with
minors. If we could know the breadth of the problem, the bishops must
have known, as well, or reasonably better than us.
Andrew Greeley, a priest sociologist from the Archdiocese of Chicago, has
estimated (1992) that between 5
percent and 7 percent of Catholic priests
involve themselves sexually with minors.
Various other sources estimate the percentage of all Catholic priests who
involve themselves sexually with minors from 2 percent to 10 percent.
There is some confusion as to whether these figures refer only to
pedophiles (sexual involvement with pre-pubescent children), ephebophiles
(sexual involvement with adolescents), or to both. I estimate that 2
percent of all Catholic priests can be defined as pedophiles, and that an
additional 4 percent involve themselves with adolescents (ephebophiles).
individual Catholic institutions or dioceses are considered, the
proportion of those alleged or indicted for the sexual abuse of minors
frequently runs higher than my estimates. For example, several Catholic
dioceses in the United States reveal that over 10 percent of active
priests have been sexually involved with minors. In 1995 10 percent of the
priests in the Belleville, Illinois Diocese were identified as abusers of
minors. The Boston Archdiocese acknowledges that 7.6 percent of its
priests have been abusers (with new revelations that figure is approaching
10 percent); New Hampshire, 8.2 percent; 24 percent of all the priests
active in the diocese of Tucson, Arizona in 1986 were abusers of minors;
in 1992 56 of 710 priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles were abusers,
a jurisdiction that admits 244 of its priests abused minors.
extensive study of a Santa Barbara, California minor seminary
(student ages 13-17) was conducted in 1993 by an independent
review board consisting of religious and lay professionals in the field of
social work and psychology, law, and medicine. This study determined that
25 percent of the religious faculty (Franciscan Friars) had inappropriate
sexual contact with minor students over a twenty-three (23) year period.
similar pattern of misconduct was documented in a Midwestern minor
seminary (student ages 13-17) between the years 1968-1986, when fourteen
(14) victims complained about sexual abuse by six priest faculty members.
Additional complaints were registered against three priest members of the
faculty between 1972 and 1992. Ten percent of one religious
community in Minnesota (Benedictine) were noted for sexual infractions.
Four of its major leadership had been offenders.
My study suggests that only a small proportion of abusing priests or
religious within any given community or area ever come to public notice,
even when efforts at discovery and disclosure are maintained. The secret
system surrounding priests and bishops is very protective and
studies reveal that sexual abuse within seminaries is significant because
10 percent of clergy report having been sexually abused during their
course of study for ordination by a priest, faculty member or fellow
seminarian. A significant number of priests who sexually abuse minors
report being sexually abused themselves when they were minors, many of
they by priests.
Sexual abuse is not a problem unique to the Catholic priesthood in the
United States. In Canada, the Catholic Archbishop of Newfoundland
established an independent commission to study the long-term sexual abuse
of minors in one of its institutions. The Newfoundland study revealed
that 13 of 107 priests were involved in sexual activities with minors. An
additional 23 religious brothers and employees of the church were also
implicated. The published report, which was completed in 1990, was the
springboard for reforms initiated by the Canadian Conference of Catholic
Bishops and implemented in dioceses across Canada.
1991 study of a random sample of Catholic clergy in South Africa revealed
that approximately 45 percent of priests reported being sexually active
with an unspecified partner within the previous two years. This study was
conducted by a Catholic priest, Victor Kotze.
1995 study of priests in Spain alleges that 7 percent of all priests have
committed grave sexual offenses against minors. The same study reports
that of a sample of 354 priests who were sexually active, 26 percent had
sexual contact with minors. Overall, the author (Pepe Rodriguez)
claims that 60 percent of all Catholic priests
in Spain are sexually active.
1996, the Irish Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a written statement,
pledged full cooperation with police and civil authorities to bring known
perpetrators in the Catholic priesthood in Ireland to justice. The Irish
Conference also apologized to the lay Catholic community for its
long-standing failure to respond to notices of the abuse of children by
Catholic priests in Ireland.
May 1996, the Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged
similar problems with Catholic clergy in Australia, and issued a policy
statement concerning cooperation with an investigation announced by a
Royal Commission. Notice was read in each parish in Australia.
studies show that the average pedophile has 250 or more victims over his
lifetime. Corresponding studies for ephebophiles are unavailable. Fr.
Andrew Greeley estimates that there are between 100,000 and 150,000
victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests and religious in the United
States. In my work, I have never attempted to make an estimate of victims.
The evidence of the widespread sexual abuse of
minors by Catholic clergy in the United States is only one indication of
the lack of celibate practice among Catholic clergy. Four times as many
Catholic priests and religious are involved with women than are involved
with children, and nearly three times as many are involved with adult men.
separate problem within the Catholic priesthood is the issue of
homosexuality, particularly in light of the Church’s condemnation of
homosexual practice. Knowledgeable observers, including authorities
within the Church, estimate that 40-50 percent of all Catholic priests
have a homosexual orientation, and that a majority of these are sexually
active. From my studies, I estimate that 30% of Catholic priests have a
homosexual orientation, and that half of these are sexually active.
See, e.g., Lothstein, 34 Catholic Law Rev. 89 (1994) .
of 1980, there had been no published studies regarding the sexual behavior
of Catholic priests serving in public ministry. In 1980, a dissertation
study of homosexual priests was conducted by a Catholic priest at the
Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. The final sample
involved 50 gay Catholic priests from across the United States ranging in
age from 27 to 58 years. Of the sample, only two of the 50 priests, or 4
percent, were currently abstaining from sex. The number of previous
same-sex partners for the sample population revealed an average of 227
same-sex partners per survey participant, ranging from 11 participants who
reported 500 or more partners, to 9 who reported no more than 10. A total
of 49, or 98 percent of the survey sample, stated they intended to
continue in a gay lifestyle in the future. In addition, 88 percent stated
that, in spite of their sexual activity, they would again take a vow of
widespread lack of celibate practice is relevant to the central issue of
the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy because a community that
publicly proclaims the sexual safety of its members, and at the same time
tolerates sexual activity by them, restricts the ability of bishops,
vicars, pastors and priests to properly supervise, discipline, and explore
the criminal activities of priests who abuse children. Exposure of one
part of the system—abusive priests—necessarily threatens to expose a whole
system that supports a lack of wide-scale celibate conformity within the
large number of sexually active homosexual priests further complicates the
issue because of the potential for public controversy and disapproval of
this behavior, particularly in view of the Church’s own disparagement of
homosexual orientation as an "inherently disordered condition." Sexual
abuse of minor boys by priests must not be confused with a homosexual
orientation. Sexual orientation and object of sexual desire are distinct.
This is patently clear when a 35 year-old man abuses a 13 year-old girl.
Heterosexual orientation is not blamed. Clear thinking is of utmost
importance in the area of sexual abuse of minors where unchecked emotions
and distorted thinking only add to the burden of suffering imposed on all
Jason Berry, Vows of Silence (New York: The Free Press, 2004),
p. 97-98 citing Eileen Welsome, “Founder Didn’t Want Molesters at
Paraclete,” Albuquerque Tribune, April 2, 1993.
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