Is Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church Really No Bigger Problem Than the Rest of Society? by Jennifer Roback Morse

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October 29, 2019
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(Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock)

COMMENTARY: If Catholics face this issue courageously, we could win many souls.

By  Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D, EWTN News, 10/27/19

A recent study reported, “only 6% of seminarians report sexual harassment.” The McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame produced this path-breaking survey. One optimistic conclusion people might draw from this report is “Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is no worse than in any other institution of society. People who keep talking about sexual abuse are just bashing the Church.”  In my opinion, comparing sex abuse in the Catholic Church with that in other institutions can serve a valid purpose. But I think we need to be careful. Some such comparisons can be actively harmful.

Let me take as an example, The Catholic League’s response to the Notre Dame survey. I choose them because they make a fair statement of a sentiment many people share:

In 2013, Hollaback! commissioned a College Harassment Survey and found that 67 percent of students experienced harassment on campus. In 2006, the American Association of University Women reported that nearly two-thirds of college students experienced sexual harassment at some point during college. In 2018, an online survey by Stop Street Harassment found that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men said they experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime. ….