Report on Catholic priests' sex abuse of minors finds no single cause
Karen Terry, the lead investigator from John Jay College, addresses the media regarding a new report on sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests.
May 18th, 2011
02:44 PM ET

Report on Catholic priests' sex abuse of minors finds no single cause

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - "No single 'cause' of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests" was identified in a wide-ranging report released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Wednesday.

The report was presented by a group of researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and was commissioned by the bishops group after determining the need for an outside group to review not only the scope of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis in the United States but to try to determine the cause.

The researchers found:

- Less than 5% of the priests who faced allegations were clinically diagnosed as pedophiles.

- Most priests who received treatment following allegations of abuse of a minor also reported sexual behavior with an adult.

- Researchers found no specific markers that would have been apparent across the board to disqualify candidates for the priesthood.

- Sexual orientation, specifically gayness, was not the cause of child sexual abuse by priests.

- The majority of abuse cases happened in the 1960s and 1970s and there was a sharp decline in the number of cases that began in the 1980s and continues today.

- Guidelines set up by the church to deal with the crisis when it came to light, including calling in civil authorities, were not adequately followed by most dioceses.

"The bad news is there is no test to give to seminarians to screen out abusers," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University who read the report. "We're going to have to be vigilant. We're going to have to continue to have programs to educate both priests and clergy, but also for kids and parents so that the opportunities for abuse are severely restricted."

As the researchers prepared to speak to the press at U.S. Conference of Bishops headquarters in Washington, Becky Ianni stood outside, holding a picture of herself as a young girl. A victim herself, and Virginia and Washington director of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), she criticized the report and said she felt it minimized her suffering.

Ianni had not yet read the full report but closely followed early press reports about its contents. "It concentrated on the priests but didn't cover the bishops who were the enablers, those who allowed those priests to move from parish to parish, those that covered up the abuse," she said.

This was the second of two reports by John Jay College on the sexual abuse epidemic that has plagued the church. The first report, "Nature and Scope," was released in 2004 and examined the breadth of the problem. This report, "The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010," examined why it happened.

While the researchers acknowledged "the 'crisis' of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is a historical problem," they said the scope of their investigation began in 1950 because of better access to people and documents. Information pertaining to prior incidents was nearly impossible to gather, they said.

The researchers compiled data from a broad range of sources including their first report; analysis of social behavior societywide (such as crime, divorce and premarital sex); seminary attendance and curriculum; surveys of a broad range of people, including bishops, accused priests, victims' advocates and laypeople; interviews with "inactive priests with allegations of abuse," and analysis of clinical files from three residential facilities that treated priests who abused minors.

The report, in part, pointed to social upheaval in the 1960s and 1970s as one of the reasons for the uptick in abuse cases.

"The abuse is a result of a complex interaction of factors, and there are number of social forces that were taking place in the 1960s and the 1970s that had an effect on a certain number of priests who had vulnerabilities that might have led to that abusive behavior," said Karen Terry, the lead investigator from John Jay College, at a press conference about the study.

"They also were trained in seminary at a time when there was no adequate preparation to live a life of chaste celibacy and they were not sufficiently able to handle those complex social forces that were taking place," she said. The report found that celibacy was not the cause of the crisis, she added.

In regard to social upheaval, Diane Knight, the chair of the report's National Review Board, a group of lay Catholics who helped oversee the study, said, "I want to emphasize that none of the information included in this report should be interpreted as making excuses for the terrible acts of abuse that occurred. There are no excuses."

Since the crisis broke publicly in the late 1980s, there were many inside and outside the church who had suggested the abusing priests were gay or pedophiles or both. The report spends significant time on both issues.

Terry said the data showed overwhelmingly that both of those assertions proved to be untrue.

The investigators labeled the majority of abusing priests " 'generalists,' or indiscriminate offenders," as opposed to offenders with exclusive sexual preferences.

"Very few of them were driven by a pathological attraction to a type of child and instead what we see is priest abusers are very much like sex offenders in the general population and many of them regress to the abuse of minors in certain time periods," Terry said. "What we also see is opportunities for them to abuse really played a critical role in who they chose to abuse."

The figure cited in the report - that 5% of abusing priests were pedophiles - came from analysis of files from three treatment facilities that had treated abuser priests. There the mental health providers determined how many of the priests had met the guidelines for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' (DSM) definition of pedophilia. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders.

Another issue the report pointed to was seminary education for priests. Terry said where a priest went to seminary had no direct correlation to whether or not they became an abuser. When a priest went to seminary played a much larger role.

The human formation curriculum, added in 1992, is correlated with a low incidence of reported sexual abuse, the report said. The church added the new component to help better equip priests to live a chaste, celibate life.

The church response deemed inadequate

The report took a hard look at the church's response to allegations during the time period of the study.

The focus by the church, investigators said, was often on the priest rather than the accuser.

"Common diocesan response to allegations of abuse included administrative leave and assessment and psychological treatment for priests who had been accused of abuse," Terry said.

Their investigation showed many of the accused priests were treated by mental health professionals, who deemed the priests "rehabilitated," and they were returned to ministry. She pointed out this was commonplace. "The claims of the efficacy of psychological treatment for sex offenders were not unusual at the time."

Many priests were not removed from the ministry, or laicized, because the process was viewed as too complex and required consent from the Vatican. In many cases, not all the victims of a particular abuser may have been known when any administrative punishment was meted out, Terry said.

Bishop Blase Cupich, the chair of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People for the bishops' conference, said, "Bishops reassigned priests on the basis of receiving reports those priests were rehabilitated. That was the science of the day. ... That was a mistake. It was a bad mistake shared by a group of professionals, shared across the board in mental health care as well as bishops. We know better now and that sort of thing should not continue today."

While the church established guidelines in response to the crisis in the mid-1990s, which included complying with "the obligations of civil law regarding reporting of the incident and cooperating with the investigation," the investigators found that often did not happen. "Diocesan leaders were more likely to respond to the sexual abuse allegations within the institution, using investigation, evaluation, and administrative leave rather than external mechanisms of the criminal law. Many diocesan leaders' actions were not transparent to those outside the church," the report states.

The investigators said despite the decline in abuse instances and church leaders' vigor in tackling abuse cases, "the church must increase the level of transparency with respect to their response to this problem."

Response from victims

Victims' advocate groups like SNAP and groups aiming for greater accountability like BishopAccountability.org both said the report did not go far enough.

"From the beginning the study was designed to let the bishops off the hook and the child molesters off the hook," said Anne Barrett Doyle, the co-director of Bishop Accountability.org.

Doyle said the church is still too insular institutionally when it comes to dealing with sex abuse allegations and she did not think the report went far enough to challenge that. The church has not done enough since the crisis came to light, she said.

"If they were real shepherds, if our bishops really cared about our church and children, they would post the names of abusers and would aggressively seek out victims and they would encourage whistle-blowers to blow the whistle and encourage victims to go to the police. Those would be the actions of leadership really intent on routing out this corruption in their church."

Cupich and Terry both noted that abuse instances had continued their downward trajectory since 1985 and there were far fewer instances of abuse in recent years, although reports from prior years still continue to emerge. But with dioceses still struggling with the fallout and new cases emerging, like the massive case in the Archdiocese in Philadelphia, Cupich said he recognized more needed to be done.

"Even one number is too many as far as I'm concerned," Cupich said. "But when you think of a church of 60-some million Catholics and you think of the children we serve in our schools and various programs we are doing our best to make sure this does not happen and we have procedures in place."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • DC • Sex abuse • United States

soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. gene

    so it was caused by rock n roll

    May 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  2. EB

    They missed the obvious cause: The Church's demand for abstinence.
    They should do a study on the unnatural desire to obtain total abstinence and its effects on priests with high libidos.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      This problem goes back to BEFORE the Catholic church ... to Revelations and the seven churches (Nicolatians) .. one priest would "share" his wife with others.. (and other things). Paul seems to have pushed abstinence (not Jesus). Paul was human (not God). The Pauline Epistles are very good writings but Paul is not a perfect man (of course) Paul was beheaded in 63 AD and Revelations is about 90 AD (John of Patmos). Nero went nuts in 64AD and Masada was destroyed in 70 AD. All of this was going on at the same time. Much of what the Greek priests added to Christianity was false doctrine. (which is why you need to read the Bible .. sorry but that is the way it is)

      May 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Dorianmode

      Wrong. The problem is not "the Church's demand for abstinence". First the "church" doesn't demand anything. No one lately, has asked the church what they demand. The hierarchy says they demand something, but what the church itself, the people in the pews, actually expect is another thing entirely. The RCs have no structure in place to allow the Spirit to work. They say they don't approve of birth control, yet the vast majority of RC women use it. They DO approve it. They are the "Body of Christ".
      If you really think the RC church has any choice about demanding this, you're sadly mistaken. This " demand" is a tiny piece of a huge house of cards, if they pull this one out the whole thing tips over, and the hierarchy is well aware of that fact. The authority model requiring this is non-biblical, the knowledge of the science of human se-xu-ality is absent, the requirements for ministry are flawed. There is no simple answer to anything.
      May 19, 2011 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |

      May 19, 2011 at 4:53 am |
  3. Peacemaker

    I question the 5% figure, because there are more victims whom have never come forward.

    A pedophile is always a pedophile there is no cure. Also, to say that in the 1950's priests were not prepared for the celibate life is a joke and insulting! The men who became priests and went on to abuse children and parishioners, were sick to begin with!

    As a Catholic, I CHALLENGE the U.S. Council of Bishops to STOP playing games! Pedophilia is a crime.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  4. Fuyjuko

    the priests lead unnatural celibate lives. Perhaps if the priests were allowed to shag there would be fewer problems of this nature.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • mike


      May 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  5. Tisha

    My thoughts on this are, "Christians" are not suppose to judge yet everyone seems to. If everyone listened to their concise & hearts maybe we could make this a better world to live in. Now I'm not saying I don't hate what preists & other have done to children & other, but I don't think any one religion is better than another. Given the fact that all that is required for a connection with the divine is faith alone. We do not need preist, preacher, minister, rabbis, etc. All we need is belief & faith plus the purity of intension to do no evil

    May 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      But what you described is not the Catholic way.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  6. BGZ1

    "gayness" ?????

    May 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      My thoughts exactly – "specifically, gayness". Must be the technical term.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  7. Shannon Underwood

    The big business corp which is the Catholic Church, if treated the same as other organizations would have a large number of its Bishops, Cardinal's and possibly the Pope in jail for the cover-up and abuse of children. Cancel its tax exemption for a couple of hundren years and put these people in jail. No special status just the same justice as other abusers.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • justme

      if these priests and pastors want to be like the apostles maybe they should get a job..luke, matthew, mark, paul and peter and the rest all had one.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      I agree with you. And I am Catholic.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Actually no. One reason what Bishops and Cardinals were not charged is that the district attorneys did not believe they could get a conviction. So the behavior of the Roman Catholic administration (which is the main complaint in these cases) does not meet the burden of proof that would be needed to convict them of a crime. Now if you were not charged with a crime and there was no conviction (had you been charged) there is NO CRIME. See? I am not defending what they did BUT I am saying there is a great LEAP to condemnation (urged by the media) which is based mostly on emotion and on what the media have "projected" as what happened. From what I have read .. the number of priests were very small (not even 50) and although it seems they church administration was manipulating the cases, normal police investigations did not result in enough evidence. Well .. isn't that they case with much of corporate America (faulty cars, Enron type swindles, pyramiding, kiting, employee criminality (they get transferred), (indeed the IMF Chief), Kobe Bryant, Duke University, the many Tyson cases, Jesse Jackson, Arnold Swartzeneggger, Bill Clinton!! So there has been wrong doing but it mostly a media balloon and a great deal of illusion about it.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  8. marcus

    I just cant wait for 2100. maybe by then we will all finally realize that there is no god. i mean come on people. the belief in a god is the only way of thinking that has made it out of the bronze age that we dont look back on and laugh about. everything they thought about the world was wrong back then but yet we still take thier word on the whole religion thing. crazy right?

    May 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • justme

      marcus? you believe you will be here in 2100? i would like to be and i'm over 50

      May 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      By 2100 you will have found out .. unless you believe in miracles ... but who does miracles?

      May 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  9. SDFrankie

    I'm guessing that most folks of faith would have a serious problem with, oh say, a Bishop who knew a priest was abusing a child but did nothing to stop it. But for some reason, they don't have a problem with an all-knowing, all-powerful being who knew about each and every instance of abuse and didn't lift a finger to stop it. Dream on, ye faithful loons.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  10. Wilma

    Are they really that blind? They're looking for a "single cause"? They've created their own silly rules that priests are supposed to be celebate. That's it. That's the cause. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you let them lead normal lives, their conduct will return to something closer to normal.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  11. arizonamom

    Has anyone thought about the fact that priests are not allowed to marry? Just sayin.

    May 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • LEB

      Yeah, like no married man has ever molested a child.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You asked: "Has anyone thought about the fact that priests are not allowed to marry? "

      If this was a question of priests just not keeping their vows of celibacy, then I think you would have a point. But not being able to marry and targeting young boys as a solution, is a stretch. Yes?


      May 18, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  12. LouAz

    Want a single cause ? Every single catholic who by their silence have CONSENTED to their priests doing young boys. They continue to "offer" their own children to this "church", and their sick pedopriests . . . in dresses for cryin' out loud ! Seems each catholic cares more about his own "soul" than their OWN CHILDREN ! A pox on all the adults and their whole stinkin' "church".

    May 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Well by that reasoning you are consenting to 50,000 traffic mort_alities each year, meth-amphetamine, date r*_ape drugs, political corr_uption, wars, police beat_ings, Obummer-care, spouse abuse, child abuse, price increases, tax increases, boom boxes, Guantanemo prison, New Orleans flooding, TSA X-rays, radar traps, neglect of elders, car-pool lanes, British soccer riots, ab*rtions, the OJ Simpson trial, c*ck fights, dog fights, ki*ll*ng baby seals, area 51, and bul_ly_ing

      May 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • LouAz

      No Clyde, yoy can't point to every thing under the sun. One catholic priest buggering one young boy in one catholic church. That occured over and over and over. You are an apologists for what you and your "church" have done, and are still doing.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  13. Reality

    Christianity/Catholicism should not even exist since it is based on flawed history and theology. Without these flaws, there would be no RCC and therefore no priests and therefore no cases of priestly pedophilia. Ditto for all the other Christian sects like the Southern Baptist Convention and Seven Day Adventists where pedophilia and coverups have been a major issue. Judaism with its flawed history and theology is in the same situation. Correct the flaws and there would be no Judaism and therefore no rabbis and therefore no cases of rabbinic pedophilia.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      Your argument contains a few logical fallacies: cause and effect, division, false dilemma, guilt by association, non sequitur… and your opinion that Christianity is based on flawed history and theology… well that depends on a person's perspective of the facts and their morals.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Reality

      The Great Resurrection Flaw of Christianity: (Some call it the Great Con)

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      o p.4
      o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  14. Reality

    Christianity/Cathocism should not even exist since it is based on flawed history and theology. Without these flaws, there would be no RCC and therefore no priests and therefore no cases of priestly pedophilia. Ditto for all the other Christian sects like the Southern Baptist Convention and Seven Day Adventists where pedophilia and coverups have been a major issue. Judaism with its flawed history and theology is in the same situation. Correct the flaws and there would be no Judaism and therefore no rabbis and therefore no cases of rabbinic pedophilia.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  15. Faithful

    I'm a Christian and this is a stinking pile of manure. Whatever happend to "practice what you preach"? Too bad they are not so sympathetic and understanding towards everyone else's s*x lives. There should be a ZERO tolerance policy for priests that molest children or anyone else. They should be immediately defrocked and handed over to law enforcement IMMEDIATELY for prosecution – like any other deviant, not coddled and sheltered. And their superiors that cover-up for them should be prosecuted for abetting criminals. What a pack of Pharisees, making their converts twice as fit for hell as they are themselves.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Actually this "pedopile priest" thing is an attack on Christianity. You can connect the dots about who would want to attack Christianity. There have been hundreds of news articles about a few priests. If you take any 1000 people (and there are millions of priests and ministers) .. what any happens in any other thousand tends to happen in that 1000 (adjusted of course for age and some social characteristics). There is a statistical "norm" or average for diabetes, obesity, alcoholism, Type O+ blood, curly hair, big ears, cancer, auto accidents ... and insurance companies determine their rates based on these per-1000 measures. What the media attention does is to make it appear that everyone is doing it .. and that is iitself a form of untruth (propaganda)

      May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  16. Stevie7

    Have they studied a single cause of why church leadership knowingly covered up these abuses and allowed these deviants to prey upon other children? Why they reached into parishioners church pockets to pay hush money to the victims?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  17. Heywood Jabloughme

    "We're going to have to be vigilant. We're going to have to continue to have programs to educate both priests and clergy, but also for kids and parents so that the opportunities for abuse are severely restricted."

    Duh, how about not leaving your kid alone with them.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • thessalonian

      Do you leave your kid alone with his or her uncle, cousin, or brother? Do you send them on trips with coaches and teachers? They are much more likely to be molested by these. But noone really cares.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • David Johnson

      It is said: "By your fruit you will be known."

      Let's look at your god's "fruit":

      God directly or at His insistence, murdered men, women and children including babies. This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      God killed every living thing on the face of the earth other than Noah and his family, because man was wicked. Afterwards, He decides He won't kill everything again, because man's heart is evil from his youth. This isn't evil? Is this moral? Sane?

      God had a man believe he was going to sacrifice his son to Him. Do you know how traumatic that would be for a father and his son?
      If you had the power would you do this? Would you be so insecure? This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      There was a man who loved God. God made a bet with Satan that even if the man were tortured, his Possessions taken, and his children killed, he would still love God and never curse Him. God won the bet.
      Would you do that? Would you kill a man's children for a bet? This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      God sent a bear to kill a group of children, because they had teased one of His prophets.
      Did the children deserve to die, because they teased a bald man? This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      God allowed a man to sacrifice his daughter to Him, for giving the man a victory in battle. Human sacrifice! This isn't evil? Is this moral?

      God created a place He can send people to be burned for all eternity. Could a god who is not evil do this?
      If a puppy wet on the floor, would you hold it over a burner? Even for a second?

      I call Jesus, Himself as a witness!

      Jesus had this to say:
      Matthew 7:17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

      Luke 6:43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.

      1. A god who is not evil, can't do evil things!
      This is established, by Jesus's testimony.

      2. The Christian god is guilty of horrid crimes against humans
      Evidenced by the atrocities recorded in the bible

      3. Therefore, god is evil. He bears bad fruit.
      Read the examples of god's behavior again. Tell me in what reality or under what circ_umstances, these actions would not be evil?


      May 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  18. Tschrny Wolf

    Why are Christians against Islam, regardless the Christian offer of heaven resembles the Muslim offer of Nirvana?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Why is it you posed a question with a conclusions in it? Christians are not necessarily against Islam. There are millions of Christians while American Christians are angry about the WTC and commercial airliner attacks (is that hare for you to understand?) over the decades .. non-American Christian may not even care, e.g., Philippines, Europe, Latin America. Many Christians marry Moslems (are they "against" Islam?) There were Coptic Christians in a church in Egypt .. they were massaced by Moslems .. was that because they disliked Moslems or because Moslems disliked them? What about the Munich massacre? (Was that American's who do not like Moslems? Or Moslems who do not like Jews?) Well what about the Chechnyan Rebels versus the Russians and the Russian school house or the Russian movie theater massacre? I do not think that your question is correct.. I do not thing Christians necessarily do not like Islamics. (most people do not like being harmed or killed .. that's pretty universal)

      May 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      This is an article about CC priest, not Islam... so why bring this up!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • TheTruth72

      @Tschrny...They may resemble each other, but to Christians they are not the same. Also, Christians do not hate ANYONE. If you read the Bible it will show you that. I have never read the Koran, and I'm a little afraid at what it might actually say.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      I thought Nirvana was for Hindus...?

      May 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      Perhaps you are young, and do not understand the world. But to make a statement that ALL Christians are against Muslims is downright....... ignorant.

      You can not lump an entire group of over 2 billion people (and that's just the Catholic count, look it up) and say we are all against Muslims.

      I am not against Muslims, I am against Islamic jihadists!

      May 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  19. David Johnson

    I think the cause is that the priests "like" young boys. LOL


    May 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • thessalonian

      Ya, all priests Davey. Stupid.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • gripes

      Davey wavey, you are obsessed with molesting of boys. The fact has always been clear, except to the obviously challenged, that priests have molested boys AND girls, as well as MEN AND WOMEN. Why did you leave them out of your little factually challenged rant?

      May 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "Davey wavey, you are obsessed with molesting of boys. The fact has always been clear, except to the obviously challenged, that priests have molested boys AND girls, as well as MEN AND WOMEN. Why did you leave them out of your little factually challenged rant?"

      The facts are:
      The 2004 John Jay Report was based on a study of 10,667 allegations against 4,392 priests accused of engaging in $exual abuse of a minor between 1950 and 2002.

      The report stated there were approximately 10,667 reported victims (younger than 18 years) of clergy $exual abuse during this period:

      Around 81 percent of these victims were male.
      22.6% were age 10 or younger, 51% were between the ages of 11 and 14, and 27% were between the ages to 15 to 17 years. – Source: Wikipedia

      Because 81% proves my point. The obsession is not mine. Idiot.


      May 18, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  20. Colin

    I am an atheist and have nothing but contempt for every aspect of the Catholic Church, save to the extent it does charitable work. That said, I think they got a raw deal on this issue. I think the publich as a misconception of how widespread it really is and I think lawyers in the US did what they always do – exagerated everything to maximize their money from the cases.

    The best thing to come out of it is that it has caused many Catholics who would otherwise blindly accept Catholic dogma to question other aspects of their belief. Anything that helps them elevate themselves above their parentally imposed superst-itions is a good thing.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      well said, Colin 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • thessalonian

      I am disgusted by atheist child molesters myself. Their existence should cause people to listen to what Christianity has to say. The Christian message, if you follow it is the cure for these things. Not atheism. The fact is that the priesthood on a percentage basis molests children at a much lower rate than the general public. I am glad there is focus on this problem as the CC needs to clean up it's act. But the fact is that the epidemic problem of child abuse in which there are 38 million suspected cases does not get the attention it deserves. Everybody likes to talk about priests and the CC. Nobody likes to talk about uncle ted, cousin Joe, brothers, fathers, even mothers. Teachers and coaches get some attention.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      So you think atheists are somehow more virtuous than anyone else? Or you are simply a bigot against people who believe in God? You obviously stereotype make categorical predication (mental laziness) about those you do not like. So what is it? (a) atheists are more virtuous because I am atheist or (b) all non-atheists are suspect because they are all alike or (c ) it really doesn't matter because I h*te all of them anyway? OR .. I supposed ( d) all of the above ..

      May 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • JJ in CT

      The issue is that the priests are in positions of "power" over their flocks. That is why so much attention is given to priests. Not to mention that they are supposedly "holy" men that are held to a "higher" standard than the rest of us (as teachers or coaches who have unsupervised access to children).

      The Catholic Church is simply disgusting for attempting to cover up the abuse itself and abuse of power, by not bringing the guilty to justice and keeping them locked away from children.

      What about taking vows of celibacy? Think that unnatural, dogmatic mandate might be a cuase?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Floyd

      @thessalonian – you are bang on!!!! The problem is societal and needs more attention to clean it up.
      @Colin, my faith has not been rattled one iota, same for all the Catholics that I know. We are mad and PO’d at the scandal and the cover ups and expect justice for the perpetrators and those who covered up, but that is separate from out faith. Nice try though.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Floyd

      Hey JJ in CT,

      Should a father or mother not be held to a higher standard as well? There are lots of dirty family secrets out there where other family members hush up too. Yes, the priesthood should be at a high standard, but so should all adults in position of power. The problem is societal. Positions of power are also coaches, teachers, babysitters, aunts, uncles, police etc. (yes an officer in our are was recently charged with this). They are all with our children on a daily basis. The point is the focus solely on the priesthood is a mistake as it takes the eye off the ball. Vigilance should be in all parts of society. Read the article. The experts could not find defining markers. The RCC is taking greater steps of vigilance than your school boards right now in its screening. You should question that instead.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Floyd, and I know many Catholics that have left the church over this. And I suspect many more would if not for guilt and family pressures that keep them in. If the same people perpetrating the scandal are the ones directing the insti-tution, it's not wrong to question the establishment.

      One in ten americans consider themselves to be ex-catholics. A majority of American catholics disagree with the church on major issues such as birth control. Many, if not most, catholics can't even explain the concept of transubstantiation. I would have to image that if more catholics would realize that the RCC doesn't have a monopoly on christianity, they would find a church more in line with their beliefs.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • JJ in CT


      Ok, keep the faith, and keep on filling up that collection plate so the Church can keep settling out of court to keep the scandals quiet, and keep the pedophiles free. And keep letting the Pope make ridiculous statements about condoms not being a preventative measure against STD's and keep letting people die of aids. Keep believing in a talking snake, and keep believing that a peace of magic fruit gives you knowledge. Just remember, keep sending them your money so they can keep the golden altars and gilded rooves bright and shiny.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Stevie7


      If my local school board knowingly shuffled around a predator to different schools to abuse other children, I'd be screaming for their heads and campaigning to make sure they (the members of the school board) wound up where they belong – prison. The only thing I see from many catholics is an attempt to deflect.

      Really, how hard would it be for the Vatican to come out and say – if you know of these issues, you must report them to local authorities? What's the excuse for not doing that?

      May 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Floyd

      @Stevie7 – why make up statistics? It sounds so silly. Our parish has welcomed new Catholics (recent converts) in the past few years in the same numbers as always.
      "If my local school board knowingly shuffled around a predator to different schools to abuse other children, I'd be screaming for their heads and campaigning to make sure they (the members of the school board) wound up where they belong – prison." Don't kid yourself Stevie7, this has happened too.
      There are no excuses, it is however getting cleaned up, unlike other parts of society. That is the point.
      @JJ in CT – I will keep my faith, but you should stop the hate; must be a miserable existence. What do you spend your money on? I am guessing hate mags, hate books and propaganda like that. Go ahead, make the atheist authors rich with their hate.
      Your only points are to spread hate. I like my church and faith much better than your hate.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • JJ in CT

      @ Floyd

      You coudln't be more wrong. I am not hateful at all. I volunteer my time helping students learn to read. I donate money and belongings to help those in need. My friends and family would say I am a loving individual who has a lust for life, experience, and learning. My comments aren't intended to be hateful, I'm simply making points about the Catholic Church. It's a perfectly rational way of discussing the issue. Can you refute one point I made?

      On the other hand, I do have disgust for the way the catholic Church handled all the pedophilia cases under their umbrella. That is not hate. I'm sure the pope is a nice guy if you met him, but I find his philosophy, actions and statements need to be questioned. Trying to sweep their dirty laundry under the rug – plainly disgusting!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • thessalonian

      JJ in CT – Just curious, are you Christian? If you are you better read Mt 19. Jesus says that to some the life of celibacy is a gift from God for the sake of the kingdom. The Apostle Paul also recommends it in 1 Cor 7 over marriage.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • JT

      You're missing the main point. No other organization protects child r@pists and knowingly shuffles them onto other unsuspecting parishes to further r@pe children with impunity. Catlicks love to compare their child r@pists to secular child r@pists. They'll then crow about how so much morally superior they are for their work at the soup kitchen.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • David Johnson


      If god gives free will, why doesn't he give it in equal portion? Did the children who were attacked have the gift to say no? Do the victims of genocide have the gift to say no? It seems not. Free will is given in greater portion to the stronger or more powerful.

      It is almost as if god does not exist...


      May 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      What would be the criteria for searching for a church?

      Would a person seek out one that was founded by Jesus Christ or founded by a man/woman?

      Would it be the Church which is guided and guarded by the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus Christ, to teach the Church and to bring it into remembrance of all that was said to the Apostles? [John 14-26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.]

      Would not all Seven Sacraments be a must since Jesus Christ inst!tuted them all? Especially the Holy Eucharist which is the real presents of Jesus Christ…… body, blood, soul, and divinity. [John 6:57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.] [John 6:59 He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.] You do not get the Real Presence with a symbol.

      Would not the pastor be one sent by Jesus Christ, to stand in for Jesus Christ so that He could continue His Priesthood? [John 20:21 ‘He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.’] He was speaking to His Apostles here. How did the Father send Jesus? With Authority! Shouldn’t the pastor be ordained of this lineage?

      Would not you want a Church where your Church Family can pray for you whether they are on earth or in heaven? Members of the Body of Christ [who become members through Baptism] are not cut off from the Body of Christ when they become Saints in Heaven! They can continue praying through Jesus Christ for you.

      Would the Church say to love your neighbor as yourself and to love God given life? Or would the church say it is okay to kill the baby?

      Would the Church say to adhere to the Ten Commandments or say they are the Ten Suggestions?

      Would the Church be the one that gave us the Bible or one that took it and changed it to more ‘suit their way of thinking?’

      Would it really be necessary to examine all 40,000 ecclesial communities out there or should one just start another….or learn the Truth before you make a mistake and leave the Catholic Church?

      May 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • bam

      When U DENY, LIE, BLAME OTHERS.... You have one HUGE reason.
      for 2000 years this is what this peace loving religion has done and continues to do.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Floyd

      @JJ in CT – we are all pained and disgusted which is why we are happy it is being cleaned up…..finally.
      I am glad you are a good person, as you say but just be careful then who you insult and how. Take a re-read of your points and tell me they are not pointed attacks. You mention you work with students. How rigid was the screening process you went through?
      Yes, I can refute a couple of your points. Here are just a that stand out:
      • “What about taking vows of celibacy? Think that unnatural, dogmatic mandate might be a cuase?” – this has been proven not to be the case.
      • “holy" men that are held to a "higher" standard than the rest of us (as teachers or coaches who have unsupervised access to children).” – No, all people in positions of power and influence over children should be held to the same standard. This is the point. You should be as much, if not more worried about the standards of the associations you have your children with rather than one you do not participate in.
      • Abstinence is the only true way to avoid STD’s and unwanted pregnancy. This cannot be argued against. However, we all understand human nature and this is virtually impossible for people to comply but it is the surest way, you cannot argue that point. That is the Pope’s point.
      • Your points about talking snakes etc, but you claim not to be hateful. They read like hateful words to me in its condescending tone. This spreads hate.
      • People are dying of AIDS because of their own indiscretions (except in the case of medical foul-ups), the Pope is not letting people die of AIDS, and he is making a poignant suggestion. Take it or leave it. If leave it, then it is your risk but don;t blame the RCC.


      May 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Floyd

      @JT – Catlicks? Now you have proven to be the bigot you are and have no point to make. Yes, other organizations have done this, but it is not sensationalized. I am glad it has come to light though as it has helped in getting the clean-up started but you are naïve to believe it is only the Catholic Church has done this. Stop hating.
      @David Johnson – your comment just makes no sense. Understand what Free Will is first.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • LEB

      You idiots, he was defending the Catholic church by saying he thinks the allegations have been overblown to seem more widespread than they actually are.

      And what's wrong with being introspective about your religion? Nothing. Don't blindly accept anything, people. THINK FOR YOURSELF. If your religion makes sense to you, be religious. If religion makes no sense to you, then don't. But regardless, we as humans have the ability to reason, analyze, and draw conclusions based on existing and new information, so exercise your intellect once in a while.

      May 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • Jesus

      This is a whitewash!! The report concludes that it is the society, not the church. It bypasses the coverup which made the perpetrator much more bolder and it misdefines the abused as a child under 10 versus the psychiatric standard of under 14. Business as usual in the evil empire.

      May 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: " your comment just makes no sense. Understand what Free Will is first."

      Oh cool! Let's engage. Explain free will to me. Please!


      May 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Here I will help you. I will show you some problems with free will. You can set me straight!

      Evangelicals say, "Free will is given to man, by God". Each person can choose to accept god's love and spend eternity in Heaven or to reject god and spend eternity being tortured in Hell. How is that freedom of choice when it is the same thing as The Godfather, making you an offer you cannot refuse?

      The problem with free will is, that Christians have insisted on their god being Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent.
      No god can be all three at the same time. The attributes contradict each other.

      If god knows what He will do in the future and because He is Omnipotent, does something else, then He is not omniscient.

      If god knows what He will do in the future and cannot do something else, then He is not omnipotent.

      See the problem?

      If God knows the future, that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.

      This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it.

      Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.
      Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient. Same goes for Peter.

      The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice.

      When Moses was attempting to secure the release of the Jews, from Egypt, God repeatedly "hardens Pharaoh's heart". God did not allow Pharaoh to release the Jews, until He had delivered His 10 plagues upon the Egyptian people. Pharaoh didn't have free will.

      Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.

      What about the child who is murdered by a monster, or a people slaughtered by a stronger opponent (or a god)?
      Did they choose to be harmed? Where was their free will? These acts show that the strong or the people in power have greater free will than their victims. Hmmm... See how this fits in with the free will / god exists thingy?

      If god has a "plan for each of us", if there is an agenda, then that pretty much rules out free will.

      Jeremiah 29:11
      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

      "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]

      Ephesians 1:11 "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

      "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

      The 6 point Calvinists believe our fates are sealed, even before we are born. This would mean that god allows humans to be born, knowing they will someday burn forever. Seems wrong to me, even for a mysterious god.

      There is no evidence that a god gives or safeguards free will.

      Actually, there is no evidence that god exists anywhere, in any dimension, or universe. LOL


      May 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Stevie7


      I don't make up statistics. My numbers all come from surveys conducted by reputable organizations. But keep the blinders on if you want.

      As an example, here's the survey showing that one in ten Americans consider themselves to be ex-Catholic. http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

      May 19, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • belief

      David Johnson.....you do not know what you are talking about. You state comments from the Bible but you left out the most important reason WHY!!?? Why did this happen. The Bible answers that question. You blame God for Hell. He did not create Hell that is a misconception. He told Adam and Eve, who had FREE WILL, that if they ate from the tree they would DIE not go to hell and burn for all eternity.
      Eccl 9:5 The living are conscious that they will die but they are conscious of NOTHING AT ALL. verse 6: Their love and their hate have perished. NO HELL HERE.

      May 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "you do not know what you are talking about. You state comments from the Bible but you left out the most important reason WHY!!?? Why did this happen. The Bible answers that question. You blame God for Hell. He did not create Hell that is a misconception. He told Adam and Eve, who had FREE WILL, that if they ate from the tree they would DIE not go to hell and burn for all eternity.
      Eccl 9:5 The living are conscious that they will die but they are conscious of NOTHING AT ALL. verse 6: Their love and their hate have perished. NO HELL HERE."

      You are obviously a proponent of Annihilationism. This is the doctrine that sinners are destroyed rather than tormented forever in "hell" or the lake of fire.
      It is directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given eternal life.

      Another belief is one of Universal reconciliation. Everybody is saved. Nobody goes to hell

      The most popular though, is the one where the unsaved spend their eternity writhing in pain.

      Everyone has a religious opinion. Each believer could show you bible verses where their interpretation is correct.

      You ideas are no more valid (have no more evidence) than any of the others.

      Religious opinions are like anuses. Everybody has one.


      May 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.