Clergy Sexual Abuse Across Traditions

March 13, 2002

Source: The Boston Globe

On March 13, 2002, The Boston Globe reported that "the scourge of clergy sexual abuse has afflicted virtually every religious denomination: In recent years rabbis, ministers, and gurus have all been charged with molesting children... But the Catholic Church has been hit with many more allegations of clergy sexual abuse than any other faith or denomination. Recent statistics on the Archdiocese of Boston show "at least 80 priests have been accused of child sexual abuse over the last 50 years, and scholars say as many as 2,000 priests have been accused nationwide... By contrast, Protestant and non-Christian denominations have had so few reported cases that their leaders can generally count them on one hand... As [Catholic] diocese after diocese around the United States acknowledges that it has employed multiple priests accused of molesting children over the last several decades - the contrast with other denominations seems to be growing.

The only non-Catholic denomination that has been plagued with allegations of widespread child sexual abuse is the Hare Krishna movement, a small Hindu-like sect. Scores of people have alleged that they were sexually abused as children at Hare Krishna boarding schools in the 1970s and 1980s... But the Hare Krishnas have been far more open than the Catholic Church in responding to the crisis, which has forced a number of Hare Krishna temples into bankruptcy. The Hindu sect published a detailed expose of its own wrongdoing... [and] set up a child protection office to investigate and report to authorities instances of child abuse... In the wake of the scandal that is roiling the Catholic Church, [other] faith groups are hurriedly reassessing their own policies and procedures" often surpassing what is required of them by law.