Report: Minnesota Archbishop Nienstedt under scrutiny for same-sex relationships

(RNS) A Roman Catholic archbishop in Minnesota who had been one of the hierarchy’s most vocal opponents of gay rights is the target of an investigation into allegations that he had a series of sexual relationships with priests, seminarians and other men.

John Nienstedt is the archbishop of Minnesota. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

John Nienstedt is the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The investigation of Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt is being conducted by a prominent Minneapolis law firm hired by the archdiocese after church officials received an allegation against Nienstedt.

The archdiocese confirmed the investigation, which was first reported by Commonweal, a Catholic magazine based in New York.

Nienstedt, 67, said in a separate statement that the allegations "are absolutely and entirely false" and he said he himself authorized the internal investigation, which he called "independent, thorough."

"The allegations do not involve minors or lay members of the faithful, and they do not implicate any kind of illegal or criminal behavior," Nienstedt said. "The allegations involve events alleged to have occurred at least a decade ago, before I began serving in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis."

Commonweal’s story cites Jennifer Haselberger, former top canon lawyer for Nienstedt, as saying she learned of the investigation when she was questioned by attorneys from the firm that the archdiocese hired, Greene Espel.

Nienstedt came under fire in September for allegedly failing to report or discipline clergy suspected of molesting children. Those allegations sparked ongoing criminal investigations. The allegations surfaced after Haselberger, who had resigned her post in frustration in April 2013, began leaking internal church documents that appeared to detail efforts to shield abusers.

One of Nienstedt’s top aides, the Rev. Peter Laird, quit. It later emerged that Laird did so after Nienstedt rebuffed his suggestion that the archbishop should resign.

But late last year, the archdiocese received an unrelated allegation that Haselberger said turned up other accusations against Nienstedt, who was ordained a priest in Detroit before becoming a bishop in Minnesota.

“Based on my interview with Greene Espel -- as well as conversations with other interviewees -- I believe the investigators have received about ten sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety on the part of the archbishop dating from his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit, as Bishop of New Ulm, and while coadjutor/archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” Haselberger told Commonweal.

She added that “he also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”

Contacted by email, Haselberger confirmed the magazine’s account.

In a written response to Commonweal, Nienstedt dismissed the charges as a “personal attack against me due to my unwavering stance on issues consistent with church teaching, such as opposition to so-called same-sex marriage.”

He said he also suspects that accusers are making claims because of “difficult decisions” he has made. He told the magazine he could not elaborate because of privacy laws.

In December last year Nienstedt was accused of touching a boy’s buttocks while posing for a confirmation photo. He denied the allegation and took a leave while the county prosecutor investigated. The authorities did not bring charges and Nienstedt returned to his post in March.

Nienstedt has earned a reputation as a leading culture warrior in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and his signature issue is homosexuality.

He frequently discusses the topic, often using controversial language or espousing unorthodox theories. He has said, for example, that homosexuality is not genetic but is a “result of psychological trauma” when a child is between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old.

Homosexuality, he has written, “must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed, etc.”

In 2006, while bishop of the New Ulm diocese, he wrote a column warning the faithful against watching “Brokeback Mountain,” the story of two gay cowboys struggling with their relationship in the conservative culture of the Mountain West.

He decried the depiction of how “one man makes a pass at the other and within seconds the latter mounts the former in an act of wanton anal sex,” and he said Hollywood’s trendmakers “have turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive.”

Then in 2010, Nienstedt launched a major campaign ahead of the midterm elections that focused on opposing gay rights, and he told a mother who wrote to him asking for tolerance for her gay son that she should instead read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and consider her “eternal salvation.”

In 2012, Nienstedt led religious leaders in pushing for an amendment to the state constitution that would have effectively banned gay marriage. He committed $650,000 in church funds to the effort but it divided his own flock and the backlash is believed to have contributed to the amendment’s defeat.

A year later, Haselberger began publishing her memos and Nienstedt has been embroiled ever since in questions about his handling of sex abuse cases.

There is one link between the investigations: the lawyers are looking at whether Nienstedt had a relationship with the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, a priest with a history of inappropriate sexual behavior who Nienstedt named to head two different parishes. Wehmeyer molested children at one of the parishes.

Nienstedt told Commonweal that his relationship with Wehmeyer was “professional” and “pastoral” and preceded the reports of Wehmeyer’s abuse.

In his statement Tuesday (July 1), Nienstedt said that he had informed Pope Francis' representative to the U.S. of the charges and the investigation, and said the final report would be given to the Vatican ambassador to pass along to Rome.

He did not say whether he would make the report public, adding only: "Let us pray that the truth will come out as a result of the investigation."



  1. So if he’s gay, I would expect the reaction to be a celebration. We need a parade! After all, he crossed over and is essentially coming out. I bet he was born that way all along….and was just a poor kid growing up indoctrinated by his evil church parents. That’s why he chose the priestly life!

    But I expect the liberal “thinker” reaction will not be celebratory in that another one of their own has come home. No. They will shreak, and shun him. Bigots!

    He’s a poor gay man. How could you be so hateful! Seriously, we need a new law to protect people like him.

  2. Considering how much he actively tried to attack the civil liberties of gays, why would he be well received? Why would hostility be remotely unreasonable?

    It is akin to a black person who supported segregation or a Jewish neo-nazi.
    More an object of pity and derision.

    That is assuming the allegations are even true. Which nobody can say right now.

  3. The very outrageous problem of pedophilia and the hypocrisy of celibate clerics engaging in sex is at least as old as the 11th century requirement of celibacy for clergy in the Western Catholic Church. That hideous problem was wisely corrected by the Reformation churches, but all kinds of issues remain in the Catholic Church.

    Required celibacy for the priesthood is to actually despise sex and marriage. It makes marriage a second-class condition, hardly deserving to be considered a sacrament, to which those who are too weak to ignore the natural and potentially sacred inclination for sexual satisfaction must subject themselves. All of that is sinfully false.

    Required celibacy for the priesthood demands elimination as much as the ordination of women and married people, even openly gay people, demands institution. The eleventh century tactic for protecting church property by instituting required celibacy was a totally unnecessary method of solving the problem. None of the problem exists now–not because of celibacy–and required celibacy has become as sinful as any problems resulting from it.

  4. All corruption of power in the church hierarchy needs to get stopped. The full truth needs to be exposed in order for children to be protected today.

    Sadly the sex abuse and cover up within the church is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don’t have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways. Until many of these bishops are demoted, disciplined, and held accountable for their crimes of enabling child predators nothing has changed. It is still business as usual.

    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day.
    Silence is not an option anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others
    Judy Jones, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

  5. Archbishop Nienstedt is a hypocrite and should have resigned long ago. His homophobic comments against gay people are hurtful and judgmental. The comments are not appropriate for a christian leader to make regardless of his religious beliefs! There have been too many accusations against him and he has no credibility in addressing the ongoing issues of abuse within the Catholic Church.
    His recent involvement in the resignation of Father Joseph Gallitan who was found to have had one incident of inappropriate conduct with a minor several years ago that involved a “boundary violation” is the reason why I have left the Catholic Church. This incident did not involve a crime and was not followed by any future incidents.
    Why is he not being held accountable for his actions?

  6. Says gilhcan, who obviously thinks he god as he has the audacity to proclaim a new interpretation on what is actually sinful before a crowd of assumedly inequals.

    What is god gilhcan’s new sin for us? Vows of celibacy of course. Such a thing is against nature he says, therefore sinful. What if this preist was born absent a desire for sex, or absent a personal identification with any gender in particular? I’m certain some of gilhans lessers reading here believe some people are naturally born “binary gender”, or even non specific. These folks might take issue with the idea that celibacy vows are sinful on the narrowly, semi-rational basis that sex is natural for all, therefore god gilhcan says we must all engage in it…as to not engage in it is itself a sin.

  7. Is he repented and asked forgiveness, would yoy forgive him?

    Seems like your an eager beaver to use the church’s teachings of love for their fellow man in order to condem his judgement of people engaging in traditionally sinful activities.

    But your not at all eager to apply any forgiveness to his case, or the case of any spiritual leaders sexual transgressions, even though forgiveness is an equally weighty teaching of the church.

    You demand payment for transgressions. Almost like you were raised a traditional, conditioned american on thr federal reservation or something….always knowing big brother is there to correct you for something.

  8. Me thinks, he protest to much.

    If in fact, he believes in his god, then his god knows his heart and his soul.
    By the look of his deeds, he is not a man of christ, for christ would not of done what this man has done, in the name of christ.

  9. How funny you demand a code of conduct from another that you, your self do not adhere to… that is the true meaning of hypocrite, as you well know.

  10. And of course he ignores Pauls own biblical recommendation for celibacy. He’ll probably argue that Pauls admonition was due to the persecution at that time without realizing the Church has always been under persecution and that the duties of married life, which Paul was concerned about, exist at all times! Furthermore, he may even believe in the “Last Days” theology, that the “Rapture” will soon be here. In which case , there would be even more reason to heed Pauls advice! The logic of these people is….well it doesnt exist.

  11. As is often the case, those who hammer the loudest against gays are usually gay themselves. It is a true sickness hat comes from a homophobic society. They somehow hope that if they are more antigay than anyone else, then people will be fooled and not realize that they are homosexuals themselves.

    They have learned nothing except that being gay is shameful, and they wish to pay that pathology on to other gay people.

    Fortunatley, people no longer view homosexuality as shameful and gays can live their lives openly and honestly, unlike this arch bishop.

  12. Nope. As a gay man, i can tell you that fn gays will welcome him because of the direct harm he has caused to gays throughout the state and diocese.

    I would only hope that he lives out his life in peace and repentance for that harm. If he weeks forgiveness from the gay community, it can and will come, provided his quest for forgiveness is honest and sincere. And i would hope that you would see that gays are forgiving whereas people like him or you are not.

    What more would you ask for?

  13. First, he would have to repent for his sins and then ask for forgiveness. If he is honest and sincere, why would forgiveness not be given?

  14. Okay, I’ll bite. Who do we need a law to protect him AGAINST? It seems to me that he’s at the top of his local power hierarchy.

  15. Men who devote large amounts of time denouncing gay people, obsessing about gay sex, and demanding that LGBT people not have equal civil rights- are almost always closeted homosexuals.

    Over and over again these people are exposed when they can no control themselves or when the people they have had sex with finally tire of the secrecy. Ted Haggard and George Rekers are good examples.

    People somehow are blind to these men. Just ask any gay man- we can spot them in an instant.

  16. It is interesting to see how carefully he worded his denial. Should we be wiling to forgive him if he were to admit to the charges? I’m not sure I could forgive him. Especially not knowing how many young males and females may have been harmed or rejected by others because of his words, or even push over the edge and committed suicide.

  17. When he began to speak against gay marriage, I told my brother. Uh-Oh, watch out. Sooner or later there is going to be a big child abuse scandal, and he will be dragged through the mud like there is no tomorrow.
    And sure enough, here we are. It’s how those guys operate.

  18. You appeal to reason and logic where none exist. The comment you responded to is a perfect example of the right wing logic in America today. Sad, but true.

  19. You are distorting the sensibilities and honesty of the vast majority of gays–who hold and practice respectable ethics that are a match for the straights who make them.

  20. It is an unfortunate display of a lack of understanding of gender in general and sexual orientation in particular. A return to a more serious study of science, sociology, and psychology is in order for those who hold such distortions.

    I have no presumption to be a god above the rest of the human race. There has never been common agreement as to what is “sinful,” not even to a reality for “sin.”

    Anyone born without a desire for sex when they mature, would be abnormal. Don’t allow one thousand years of required celibacy for ordination as a priest in the Catholic Church to give you the notion that required celibacy for a particular work is natural or healthy. Celibacy was not the practice at the time of Jesus. Peter, or in the church for a thousand years. Most clergy before the eleventh century institution of required celibacy were married. And there is evidence there were women clerical leaders. A good study of church history would clarify many wrong ideas.

    Sociology, science, and psychology have long proven that some people are bisexual. We do not yet understand the specifics of the conditions of all sexual orientations, heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. All we know is that heterosexuality is the “normal” condition, that of the majority. It does not follow that “abnormal” which we attribute to homosexuality and bisexuality is a bad condition, a bad name.

    Freely desired and chosen celibacy–with chastity–by religious communities of priests, nuns, and brothers is very different than the required celibacy for ordination to the priestly ministry. The exclusion of women from ordination altogether is downright misogynistic. It is a man-made rule, pure and simple. And it is not historical.

    In the prevailing illiteracy about sexual orientation, it is understandable that many homosexuals, because the church teaches that their inclination toward sex is sinful if put in practice, would presume that God made them that way because he wanted them as priests in a church that instituted that artificial rule more than one thousand years after the time of Jesus.

    With all the social/cultural illiteracy about sexual orientation, given the way that “straights” make “queers” and then throw them away, it is no surprise that serious problems develop about minority sexual orientations, even among those who are of those minor orientations.

  21. He will not be celebrated because we do not celebrate self-loathing, closet case hypocrites who work against the LGBTs community in order to deny their own nature.

  22. If Paul was so right, why did it take the Western church 1,000 years to require celibacy of its clergy? And what were the actual reasons for that rule? The answers to those questions hold the secret to the historic falsehood embedded in celibacy/chastity.

  23. Sorry RNS continues to allow replies to comments to be listed so out of order. It often makes it difficult to understand their relevance.

  24. MD: Nienstedt’s historic attitude and public reactions toward minority sexual orientations are more than hurtful, they are downright ignorant, cruel, and, by his own church’s definition, sinful. But so were those of John Paul II, Benedict, and many of their predecessors.

  25. hard2find: That’s a presumption that all the news is true. We will have to await the outcome of honest and thorough investigations–hoping that those are not distorted by obstructions of justice as so many bishops did with clerical cases of pedophilia. Unfortunately, Catholic clergy have been reduced to the situation where they cannot be trusted. Trust used to go with the job. No more!

  26. Yes, CharlieTT, it is a sad fact that we have come to be able to recognize the hypocrisy in all these negative demonizers. They don’t understand sexuality. The recite memorized catechisms. But they practice sex in spite of their public promises not to. That practice is so often distorted and scandalous, damaging to youth who are subdued, because the “adults in the room” are pretending to live a life that is unnatural and unbearable for them.

    I suppose there are some who are true to their promise not to marry, and, by other church moral teaching, abstain from sexual activity, but it is a horrendous expectation of human beings. Sex can be beautiful, absolutely sacred. Unfortunately, church rules tend to soil it. That is the real sin.

  27. Super response, and so delightful to read. Thank you for ignoring the disrespectful tone and being informative.

  28. Wow, so I see so many believe the propaganda and accusations without any evidence whatsoever. But who cares, right? It is not like bearing false witness is a mortal sin…oh wait, whoops, it is.

    It is a nonsense accusation, just like the one he just got through, complete mularky.

    As far as the child abuse scandal, geez, it is so obviously a homosexual predatory issue, as most of the victims were pubescent, adolescent males, so to call it a pedophilia issue is wrong. It is an ephebophilia issue, a known homosexual pathology. And despite that, the Church gets all the spotlight on this one, even though protestant communities have experienced far more sexual abuse, and public schools more occurrences than both Catholic and Protestant combined.

  29. Using that “logic”, 100% of the controversial and politically charged Westboro church are gay.

    I doubt it.

  30. Reading the comment here, I am sort of amazed by the quantity of representation of gay men versus straight individuals. I surprised because I would have not thought a website such as this would have a lot of gay readers. Just gaging by the number of individual commenters who just identified themselves as gay, I’d say fairly close to half are.

    It makes me think there is either a coordinated effort going on, or the majority of gay people are intrensicly religious and have a natural proclivitytoward religion.

    The representation here is far higher than I thought existed in actual american demographics.

  31. Sorry, not “gaging”. I meant to type gauging. My keypad on my phone is too small for my fat fingers.

  32. @ MD

    “His homophobic comments against gay people are hurtful and judgmental. The comments are not appropriate for a christian leader to make regardless of his religious beliefs!”

    Say it again, so other clergy might see that “love and mercy are greater than judgment” as the Book says.

  33. Thank you so much. I was reading through these venomous comments hoping to find a voice of reason. It’s amazing that the media will downplay every single case of public school teachers, Protestant ministers, and married (non-celibate!) fathers who are molesters. And by the way, the last group has the highest statistical representation. But find a (!!!) homosexual priest who has been molesting or raping pubescent boys, and it’s suddenly not a homosexual issue. It just HAS to be the celibacy or the fault of the Church.
    Here is a clue: sick and demented people will find groups of good, trusting people to target. So if you are a homosexual male interested in young boys looking for a target rich setting, where would be a good place to go? A seminary would have been a great place, once the psychiatrists started reassuring everyone that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. And the seminaries of the sixties, seventies, and eighties turned into havens for homosexuality, where straight seminarians tried to stay off the radar. Once out of the seminaries the ephebophiles were assured of being among a lot of innocent victims.
    It is impossible to deny that homosexuals are pushing for acceptance of “Man-Boy Love.” Sorry, the presence of “chicken hawks” is very much a part of homosexual culture.

  34. This comment is in error in many respects. Celibacy is not a cause of sexual abuse. Other institutions, religious or secular, battle the scourge of sexual abuse. Look at public schools for example. The Catholic church has now the lowest rate of sexual abuse of any institution, religious or secular, in the US. Marriage is elevated to the level of a sacrament in the Catholic church. Finally, almost all of the abuse in the Catholic church was homosexual not pedophilia.

  35. Yup even priest get caught up in sinful behavior. Of course that fact doesn’t change one iota the fact that homosexual behavior is sinful.

  36. You actually said, “almost all of the abuse in the Catholic church was homosexual not pedophilia”. So, I took the liberty of looking up “pedophile Priests” for you and this is what I found.

    This is an awfully long list of the names of priests that have been positively identified as having had children for abuse victims. Maybe, you should take a good long look at it.

  37. As long as there have not been a single suicide due to his actions, I would be able to forgive him. If there has been one suicide, then his forgiveness is up to his god. He will receive no forgiveness from me.

  38. Anti-gays constantly claim that all LGBT Americans commit criminal child sexual assault, Chutney. It’s obviously false, and just meant to demean, demonize and dehumanize LGBT Americans.

  39. Not all the posters here who reject your anti-gay Hate Speech are LGBT.

  40. “According to the American Psychological Association, “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.” Gregory Herek, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on prejudice against sexual minorities, reviewed a series of studies and found no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than heterosexual men.

    Anti-gay activists who make that claim allege that all men who molest male children should be seen as homosexual. But research by A. Nicholas Groth, a pioneer in the field of sexual abuse of children, shows that is not so. Groth found that there are two types of child molesters: fixated and regressive. The fixated child molester — the stereotypical pedophile — cannot be considered homosexual or heterosexual because “he often finds adults of either sex repulsive” and often molests children of both sexes. Regressive child molesters are generally attracted to other adults, but may “regress” to focusing on children when confronted with stressful situations. Groth found that the majority of regressed offenders were heterosexual in their adult relationships.

    The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute notes that 90% of child molesters target children in their network of family and friends. Most child molesters, therefore, are not gay people lingering outside schools waiting to snatch children from the playground, as much religious-right rhetoric suggests.”

    More at:

  41. Is it up to any one of us to forgive the Archbishop? Isn’t that between God and him and is his belief through the clergyman to whom he makes confession? As far as keeping his job if allegations are true, isn’t that up to his boss, Pope Francis? And if he has abused or sexually manipulated any person, isn’t it up to criminal and civil courts to decide penalties for him, and isn’t up to those whom he has victimized or up to the one who speaks directly for the victim to forgive him? Some want to assume many roles in responding to what the Archbishop has done: why?

  42. The APA lost all credibility when they allowed the gay lobby to bully, harass and intimidate them into removing homosexuality from the DSM. As psychologists Rogers H. Wright and Nicholas A. Cummings objected:
    “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association yielded suddenly and completely to political pressure when in 1973 it removed homosexuality as a treatable aberrant condition. A political firestorm had been created by gay activists within psychiatry, with intense opposition to normalizing homosexuality coming from a few outspoken psychiatrists who were demonized and even threatened, rather than scientifically refuted. Psychiatry’s House of Delegates sidestepped the conflict by putting the matter to a vote of the membership, marking the first time in the history of healthcare that a diagnosis or lack of diagnosis was decided by popular vote rather than scientific evidence (Destructive Trend in Mental Health: The Well Intentioned Path to Harm, New York, Routledge, 2005, 9).

    The flawed Groth study you present ignores the homosexual pathology of ephebophilia. The infamous 2005 APA study that tried to make similar claims failed for similar reasons as well, as Professor Loren Marks of LSU pointed out that “not one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children, with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children…the available data on which the APA draws its conclusions, derived primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to to support a strong generalized claim… (Social Science Research, 41 20122: 735-52; quote on 748)”. The now vindicated Regnerus study, published in th Social Science Research, 41, no 4 (July 2012) showed the extent that children brought up in same sex “parent” households experience sexual abuse among other factors.

    Dr Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute in her February 26, 2013 statements before the Illinois Legislature commented on the Regnerus study that:

    These young adults (who were raised by same sex couples) are more likely to report having been sexually touched by a parent or adult caregiver, that they had been forced to have sex against their will, than those who had been brought up in intact biological families. Twenty-three percent of young adults whose mothers had a same sex relationship had been touched sexually by a parent or adult care-giver, compared with 2% of those whose parents were continuously married, 10% of those whose parents were divorced or never married, and 12% of those who lived in a stepfamily. Thirty-one percent of young adults whose mothers had had a same sex relationship and 25% of those whose father had had a same sex relationship reported that they had ever been forced to have sex against their will, compared with 8% of those whose parents were continuously married, 23% of those who had been adopted, 24% of those whose parents had divorced, 16% of those who lived with stepparents and 16% of those whose parents were never married. While 90% of those whose parents were continuously married reported themselves as “entirely heterosexual,” only 61% of those whose mother had a same sex relationship and 71% of those whose father had a same sex relationship reported themselves as “entirely heterosexual.” Just over 80% of young adults who grew up in all other family forms, including adopted, divorced, stepfamily and never married parents, reported themselves as “entirely heterosexual.”

    The independent and famous Jon Jay College of Criminal Justice Study of 2002 revealed some interesting data. As summarized in the letter by clinical psychologists and Catholic Civil Rights aactivist Dr. William O’Donohue, and Dr. Lorraine Benuto titled: Some Key Misunderstandings Regarding the Child Sexual Abuse Scandal and the Catholic Church (April 27th, 2012):
    “In 2002 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned an independent study to address growing concerns about child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States. The Conference enlisted the Jon Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct this study examining rates and characteristics of the sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. This study presents the best and most objective data on this phenomenon. The researchers found that a total of 10,667 individuals had made allegations of child sexual abuse against 4,392 Catholic priests between 1950 and 2002, and that most such acts took place between 1960 and 1984. The 4,392 priests made up 4% of all Catholic priests in the 14 Dioceses/ Eparchies in the United States.
    These statistics contradict the misconception that a majority of priests commit sexual abuse and even that priests are more likely to abuse than the general population. In fact, priests offend at the similar rates as the general population. Another common misconception is that most priests committing child sexual abuse were pedophiles, that is individuals attracted to prepubescent children. It turns out that the majority of victims (almost 75%) were between 11 and 17 years of age; therefore, a more accurate clinical term for these priests is hebephiles (showing sexual preference for children in their early years of adolescence)—rather than pedophiles. The major distinguishing feature of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is that the majority of alleged victims are male (81%), while in the general population females are more likely to be sexually abused (Pereda et al., 2009). This fact also suggest that part of the problem is a hebephilic homosexual orientation on the part of priests—adolescent boys are the most vulnerable population to be victimized—which becomes a political hot potato, given the secular agenda to normalize homosexuality.
    Another key difference found in the study is that a little less that half of the priests (1881) were found to be subject to unsubstantiated allegations. An unsubstantiated allegation was defined as “an allegation that was proven to be untruthful and fabricated” as a result of a criminal investigation. This rate of false accusations is much higher than found in the general population. Additionally, 23% of the priests who were accused of abuse were identified as suffering from behavioral or psychological problems ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to depression and a past history of coercive sex, although most never received treatment for these problems. This would suggest that helping priests with their mental health issues would be an important part of future prevention efforts.
    More than half of the priests had only one allegation brought against them. Also, it is important to note that a few priests accounted for a disproportionate number of victims: 3.5% of priests accounted for 26% of victims. Even though an investigation was conducted almost every time a report was filed, only 217 or 5.4% of priests were charged with a crime by a district attorney. Of the 217 priests that had criminal charges brought against them, a substantial majority (64%) were convicted; but still a significant number were not found guilty. Most received probation (88%) and/or a prison sentence (73%), while 44% went to jail and 18% were fined.
    Do Priests Abuse More Than Other Clergy?
    A 2011 John Jay College follow-up study examined sexual abuse in other religious institutions around the U.S. and found that most evidence came from case settlements, policy changes and trials receiving media attention. For example, 10% of Protestant clergy were involved in sexual misconduct, 2-3% of which committed sexual abuse. In 2007 Jehovah’s Witnesses settled 9 lawsuits with victims alleging that the church’s policies protected child sexual abusers. The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints reported 3-4 yearly lawsuits over the course of the last 10 years, which translates to allegations in .4-.5% Mormon wards. The Jewish community has founded two sexual abuse survivors’ organizations, Survivors for Justice and Awareness Center, the latter of which provides “the names of 107 rabbis accused of sexual misconduct and 279 other trusted officials (for example, parents and counselors), as well as 85 unnamed abusers”. While we were were not able to find specific numbers concerning the prevalence of child sexual abuse in other religious institutions, we hope that the previous examples serve to show that the Catholic Church isn’t the only religious establishment faced with this problem.”

  43. I would be interested where you cut and pasted from. Not one of the sources cited is reputable.

    “The Ruth Institute” is a fundamentalist Christian lobby group.

    “Loren Marks, a Louisiana State University Associate Professor, earlier was disallowed from giving expert testimony in a Proposition 8-related case when, under questioning, he admitted he had cherry-picked information from studies he had not read, and that he knew nothing about same-sex couples.”

Leave a Comment