Countless reports have documented the historic prevalence of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Behind each report is a victim who suffered unspeakable traumas. While the dynamics involved in sexual abuse are complex and difficult to fully understand, experts generally agree that several factors contributed to the problem of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
Factors underlying abuse
Authorities have identified a number of systematic failures that likely enabled sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. In particular, the church historically treated sexual abuse allegations as internal matters. The primary concern was protecting the church’s reputation, rather than protecting children.
Church leadership rarely notified law enforcement and often moved accused priests to new parishes, where they would have access to new victims. Priests and other religious figures took advantage of community trust in the church. Many parishioners wrongfully believed priests were incapable of sexually abusing children. In fact, perpetrators of sexual abuse come from all walks of life and often seek out positions of trust in order to gain access to children.
As is common in many sexual abuse cases, many victims of clergy sexual abuse reportedly blamed themselves for the abuse or felt that adults would not believe their allegations.
In recent years, the Catholic Church’s historical failures to protect children have come to light. Brave victims have stepped forward and pursued justice against those who committed abuse and the institutions that enabled it.
If you or a loved one has been victimized, you may consider speaking with an experienced attorney about your legal rights and any potential avenues of justice.