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Encyclopedia > Catholic priests' sex abuse scandal

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Catholic priests' sex abuse scandal

The Roman Catholic Church in the United States is immersed in a sex scandal based on revelations of pedophilia-related and other sex crimes committed by priests.

Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy. Some argue that the Catholic Church's insistence that priests be celibate is in some way related to the crimes, perhaps in the kind of person who is willing to take a vow of celibacy.

There is evidence that over the course of decades a small minority of priests has been involved in a huge number of incidents of child sexual abuse, and that the crimes have been covered up by the church rather than revealed to the authorities to allow prosecution.

The church has argued that their actions were motivated by Christian charity to the priests. Their critics have accused them of hypocrisy, or worse. The church has also observed that the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is little different than the percentage of people in any other occupation guilty of such crimes, and suggest that motives for the current publicity include a desire to embarrass the church, and to persuade the church to change its requirements for all priests to be celibate and male, as well as to redress past wrongs and avoid future wrongdoing.

Topics:

  • The Geoghan case...
  • Cardinal Bernard Law the archbishop of the Boston archdiocese had come under enormous public pressure to resign after church documents revealed his extensive role in covering up sex crimes committed by priests in his archdiocese. The Vatican announced on December 13, 2002 that the Pope had accepted Law's resignation as archbishop, though he will retain his rank of Cardinal.
  • Dontee Stokes[?], who shot the Rev. Maurice J. Blackwell[?] was acquitted of felony charges by a jury, in spite of his admission that he had shot the priest after accusing him of sexual abuse.

This is unlikely to be the end of the scandal.

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