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Catholic Priest Abuse

QUESTION: Why did the Catholic priest abuse scandal happen?


Over the past few years, people have wondered why the Catholic priest abuse scandal has occurred. What has been done about it?

The Catholic Church is adopting a zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse by a priest. One accusation with supporting evidence and the offending priest is defrocked. It has only been implemented sporadically, but it is a start. In June 2002, the nation's Catholic bishops passed The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The measure requires that American dioceses ban priests convicted of sexual abuse and have policies in place to prevent further abuse.

The strict policy of celibacy and chastity for priests in the Catholic Church deprives them of humane and healthy outlets for their sexual needs. Under a cloak of secrecy, some priests have preyed on young boys. New accusations about past and recent abuses continue to emerge.

Victims kept silent about the abuse out of shame or fear of what would happen if they did tell someone. Priests were considered holy men of God, and therefore they were assumed to be above such behavior. Parents taught their children that priests could be trusted. In more recent times, victims have reached out-of-court settlements with the church. Since 1985, an estimated 1,400 sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed against priests. The large settlements pushed the dioceses to the brink of bankruptcy.

When the abuse allegations initially surfaced, the offending priests were not defrocked. They were routinely re-assigned to a different area where they would not have contact with minors. Still, some priests would become repeat offenders.

Minnesota's six Catholic dioceses are requiring criminal background checks for any volunteers or staff who has contact with young people. More training and outreach will be done by the diocese on sexual abuse.

Learn More about Catholic Priests!

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