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The multiple civil cases involving Catholic Dioceses, Bishops, and Priests since 1985, and especially since 2002, have added data, facts, and substance to the dynamics of the pattern and practice of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the collusion of superiors and members of the hierarchy in covering abuse, failing to supervise clergy, neglecting to protect the faithful from further abuse, and neglecting to report abuse to appropriate civil agencies. Reports from the independent Review board set up by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Surveys to determine the scope of the Crisis among the church in the United States (John Jay College of Criminal Justice) have laid the responsibility  for the crisis squarely at the feet of the Bishops. The Reports of Grand Jury investigations so far published have made it clear that the bishops involved have not been capable of dealing with the problems of abusing clergy. This report reflects the new data registered since the Preliminary Sipe Report was issued in 1997. It is appropriate that this report is centered on the Archdiocese of Boston that has been the epicenter of the current crisis and serves as a template against which the other dioceses in the United States can be understood. A.W.R.S., May 1. 2005

Civil Action No. 04-1046 1-DPW RULS 26(a)(2)(B)

I.  Qualifications



1.  My 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. 

2.  I 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. 

4.  After 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. 

5.  In 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 Menninger Foundation.

6.  From 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.

7.  In 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.

8.  In 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 case histories.

9.  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 Meaning.

10.  I 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.

11.  I 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 1997. 

12.  I 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.

13.  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 my report.

14.  Over 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.

15.  My main body of research, which began in 1960 as the study of celibacy, is the study of sexual activity of Catholic priests and religious. 

16.  Over 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 Catholic clerics.

17.  My 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:


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB did not abide by  its own Code of Canon Law in dealing with its priests’ sexual abuse of children or with the 1962 Instruction on the Manner of Proceeding in Cases of Solicitation, including paragraph 70 “the worst crime,” and paragraph 73 the sexual abuse of minors.


As in every major diocese in the United States, top RCAB officials knew the extent of the RCAB’s clergy sexual abuse problem for many years before it became known to the public;


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB’s response to reports of sexual abuse of children, including maintaining secrecy of reports, placed children at risk;


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB did not notify law enforcement authorities of clergy sexual abuse allegations;


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB did not provide all relevant information to law enforcement authorities during criminal investigations;


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB failed to conduct thorough investigations of clergy sexual abuse allegations;


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB placed children at risk by transferring abusive priests to other parishes;


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB placed children at risk by accepting abusive priests from other parishes;


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB placed children at risk by transferring abusive priests to other Dioceses in the United States and abroad; and


As in every major diocese in the United States, the RCAB failed to adequately supervise priests known to have sexually abused children.

III.  Factual Bases for Opinions to Be Expressed

19.  My opinions in this case shall be based upon the application of my specialized knowledge to the particularized facts of this case.  The particularized facts to which my specialized knowledge shall be applied, and from which my expert opinions shall result, shall be gleaned from my anticipated review of the documents provided by the RCAB to the Attorney General’s Office, and upon which the findings and conclusions of the AG’s Report were largely based.  Indeed, it is my understanding that such documents provide evidence that between 1940 and July 2003, priests in the Archdiocese had abused “at least 789 children in forty-five different cities and towns” of the Commonwealth, and that “[t]he majority of the abuse took place between 1960 and 1992.”  It is also my understanding that, to date, the RCAB has failed to produce to LMC a complete set of the documents it provided to the Attorney General’s Office.  Obviously, this Report shall require supplementing once I have had an adequate opportunity to review the documents previously provided by the RCAB to the Attorney General’s Office. 

20.  My opinions shall also be based upon the application of my specialized knowledge to the particularized facts of this case as set forth in the Addendum to the Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Support of their Motion in Limine to Admit Evidence of Practices and Policies of the RCAB Concerning Sexually Abusive Priests, which was filed in an action entitled Ford, et al. v. Bernard Cardinal Law, et al., Suffolk Superior Court No. 02-04551-T1 (hereinafter, the “Ford Documents”).  I have some familiarity with the Ford Documents pre-dating my involvement in this case due to my work with victims’ support groups, including the group known as Bishop Accountability.  It is my understanding that a complete set of the Ford Documents was only recently provided by the RCAB to LMC in this case on January 19, 2005.  I have begun to re-familiarize myself with these documents, and based upon my review of them, believe that they establish that the RCAB’s practices, policies, and procedures are no different than those which have existed in every major diocese in the United States since at least 1960, including:


Retaining and reassigning priests known to have abused children;


Concealing from parishioners that priests assigned to their parishes were a threat to their children;


Disregarding warnings from medical professionals retained by the RCAB that certain priests were dangerous to children and should not be assigned to any ministry which provided them with contact with children;


Lying to victims who requested information about priests who abused them or their children;


Failing to provide those medical professionals evaluating abusive priests with the necessary facts and, in some cases, lying to them about the priest’s background or concealing material facts;


Ignoring warnings from others within the RCAB who believed that certain priests were a threat to children;


Failing to report the crimes committed by certain priests to law enforcement, and obstructing or interfering with law enforcement investigations concerning abusive priests;


Failing to alert parishioners at previous parishes where abusive priests had served that their children were exposed to known or suspected child molesters;


Making decisions which reflected that the interests of abusive priests and the desire to avoid scandal to the Church were vastly superior and more important than the interests of children who had been abused by priests; 


Using Church influence to alter the outcome of the criminal legal process relating to priests who had been engaged in illegal sexual acts; and 


Fostering an environment and culture where abuse of children could flourish and in which it was clear that there was no accountability for criminal acts towards children.

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:

The Expectation of Clergy Sexual Abuse as Evidenced by the Statistical Magnitude of the Problem

22.  When 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. 

23.  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.

24.  As 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. 

25.  At 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. 


The Expectation of Clergy Sexual Abuse as Evidenced by the Proliferation of Catholic Treatment Centers


26.  In 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.

27.  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. 

28.  In 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.

29.  The 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.

30.  The 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 the Institute.

31.  The 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 priests:

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 have begun.

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. [1]


32. 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.

33.  It 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.

34.  The 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.

35.  In 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. 

36.  It 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.

37. 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.

38.  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.


The Expectation of Clergy Sexual Abuse As Endemic to The Catholic Church’s Policies, Practices, and Procedure in Responding to Allegations of Abuse

39.  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.


Clergy Sexual Abuse As an Expected By-Product of Concealment Wide-Spread Sexual Activity (Both Abusive and Non-Abusive) of Publicly-Pronounced “Celibate” Priests and Religious


43.  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 and assumption. 

44.  As 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. 

45.  Fr. 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.

46.  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).

47.  When 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.

48.  An 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.

49.  A 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 well-established.

50.  My 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.

51.  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.

52.  A 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.

53.  A 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.

54.  In 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.

55.  In 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.

56. Well-established 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.

57.  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.

58.  A 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) .

59.  As 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 celibacy.

60.  The 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 priesthood. 

61.  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 concerned.

[1] 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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