The Hidden Victims of Priest Abuse

Beyond Chron
May 3, 2010

To read or watch the media these days you'd think that most of the sex that Catholic priests are accused of having is with young boys. It's what the Vatican wants us to believe.

But even as Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, was bashing gays as part of his attempt to shift the blame for the abuse scandals onto the backs of homosexual pedophiles, the very country he was standing in -- Chile -- was reeling from the news that a priest had engaged in sex with many girls and even made one of them pregnant.

"There is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia," Bertone said. No such relationship exists. Most pedophiles, according to studies, are heterosexual.

Bertone knows damn well what's going on.

According to a recently published article at, it's no secret to the Church's big brass that priests have engaged in sex with tons of women. In 1988, Sister Marie McDonald, the head of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, submitted a report to the big guys in Rome about what she observed in Africa.

According to McDonald's report, clergy in Africa considered nuns safer sex partners because of the prevalence of AIDS. Being from cultures where women were taught not to question what a priest or other male authority figure told them made them easy targets for priests who just couldn't resist that "near occasion of sin." Celibacy meant having sex "only with virgins," they told the women.

McDonald is not the only whistle blower. An ex-nun from India, Sister Jesme, wrote in her 2009 book Amen: Autobiography of a Nun about her own experiences with horny clergy. It was denounced by a Catholic spokesperson in India as a "book of trivialities."

Trivialities they're not.

Women's reports of sex with priests are not taken as seriously as those of men. Though a quick perusal of the Internet shows a number of recent cases of priests accused of sex with women and girls, those accounts have not had the same impact as those involving boys.

As far back as 2002, Gary Schoener, a clinical psychologist in Minneapolis told the Kansas City Star that there's a double standard in how gender is treated in the priest sex scandals.

"It is presumed that the abuse of young boys is more deviant and therefore more harmful," he said. "Girls and women are the only group that, if you're in a disposition, they're asked if they liked it ... The girls are asked what they were wearing; they are accused of being seductive. That is virtually routine." Women even receive less money in settlements.

"We're treated like we're the evil sinner, like we caused the good, holy priest to sin," Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said. SNAP's membership is half women.

Linda Allegretti of Brooklyn told the Boston Globe that same year that "when you're a woman, many times they feel as if you're the one who instigated it ... you hesitate to come forward because you feel you will be the one who's the bad guy because you should have known better."

No wonder a lot of women haven't spoken out.

According to and other media sources, including the Toronto Star, this reluctance on the part of women to speak out may be changing. If women in Africa and India start to go public with their stories, the Vatican would have to shift its party line in a hurry.

Whom will it blame then?

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