October 16, 2005

Priestly abuse of parish youth


Sunday, October 16, 2005


THERE HAVE been so many recent disclosures about priests sexually abusing teens and younger children, most of them boys, that we have grown numb. The time has come to renew our sense of outrage.

Roman Catholicism is the biggest American religious denomination. It is the biggest in New Jersey as well, with 3.5 million adherents, representing more than 40 percent of the state population. The church is not just the focus of belief for members, it has served as an anchor of stability and continuity for the larger community.

So it is not just embarrassing for the church but a cause for general concern and anger that so many supposedly celibate priests, ordained to lead parishioners in devotion to God, have been unmasked as sexual deviates and predators.

One's first reaction is astonishment at the scale of the misconduct. The church can respond, as some of its leaders have, by noting that fewer than 5 percent of all the priests ordained since 1950 have been credibly accused of sexual contact with a minor. That figure may understate the scale of the problem, since some victims have not come forward and never will, and others died years ago, but it is a starting point.

Posted by kshaw at October 16, 2005 09:41 AM