20 Root Causes of the Clergy Abuse Crisis

1. There is a widespread child sexual abuse (CSA) crisis in secular society.

2. The influence of pornography on persons in society and in the Church makes sexual sins more common and more disordered.

3. Many Catholics are not chaste; grave sexual sins of every kind are common among the laity.

4. Many Catholics do not believe the teachings of the Church on sexual ethics; they have decided that their grave sexual sins are not sins at all.

5. Many unmarried Catholics have sex outside of marriage, including unnatural sexual acts.

6. Many married Catholics commit unnatural sexual acts within marriage, and they do not recognize that these acts are gravely immoral.

7. Many theology of the body teachers approve of, and promote unnatural sexual acts in marriage, as if these acts of grave depravity were holy.

8. There are many child abusers among the laity, from whom priests are drawn.

9. Many Catholics live a double life, whereby they knowingly commit mortal sins, never confess, and continue to receive Communion.

10. Even among those Catholics who avoid grave sexual sins, there is a general lack of holiness, and a lack of prayer, self-denial, and works of mercy.

11. The Bishops are very reluctant to remove unfit seminarians and priests from ministry, perhaps partly due to the priest shortage.

12. Most child abusers are NOT gay. The scapegoating of gay priests leaves the vast majority of abusers unaffected, and able to continue their crimes.

13. Contempt for Church teaching and authority among the laity creates an environment where abusers fit in.

14. Many of the persons responsible for teaching and governing seminarians are themselves spiritually corrupt, morally corrupt, weak in faith, and/or poorly-catechized. They teach heresy and grave moral errors; they discourage seminarians from piety; they fail to screen out the most sinful seminarians.

15. Seminarians and priests refuse to report the bad behavior of their peers to the Church, the public, and law enforcement.

16. In society today, persons in their late teens and early twenties are not mature enough to take the weighty role of a priest. Seminarians are being chosen at too young an age. As a result, their formation fails, and they are easily led astray into grave sins.

17. Seminaries are not places where young men are taught the faith and given formation to become good priests.

18. Bishops and priests are seldom held accountable before a criminal court. The justice system is reluctant to arrest and prosecute religious leaders, especially Bishops.

19. Those who propose to fix the abuse crisis have over-simplified the situation, resulting in proposals which do not address the root causes and therefore will be ineffective.

20. Unfair, exaggerated, and false criticisms of the Pope have undermined the trust of the laity in him, making it more difficult for him to address the problem.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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