How Serious Is the Problem
of Sexual Abuse by Clergy?
Greeley's 1993 Article and the Debate Surrounding It
On March 20, 1993, the Jesuit weekly America published an important
article by Fr. Andrew Greeley on the sexual abuse crisis. Frank Fitzpatrick
had gone public about the Porter abuses on May 6 of the previous year,
and after months of appalling revelations, Seán O'Malley, the new
bishop of Fall River MA, had settled the Porter cases on December 3, 1992.
Jason Berry's Lead Us Not into Temptation had been published
in October 1992, and the debate about the crisis continued into the new
Greeley's article was notable for its blunt estimate that 100,000 people
had been abused by priests—his numbers are still cited—and
for his espousal of the victims' cause: "I admit that I am on the
side of the survivors." Greeley is fascinating and necessary reading,
as we all prepare to evaluate the bishops' report on the causes and scope
of the crisis.
We present Greeley's article, together with the exchange that he and Rev.
Philip J. Murnion had about the statistics of the crisis—still an
open and confusing issue, almost eleven years later. We also provide some
of the context for their debate. This feature begins a project to extend
our Timeline back from
January 2002 into the earlier history of this ongoing crisis. Please email
us with suggestions for adding articles from the 1980s and 1990s.
* Andrew M. Greeley, How
Serious Is the Problem of Sexual Abuse by Clergy? (3/20/93)
* Rev. Philip J. Murnion, Regarding
A. Greeley's Data on Sexual Abuse by Priests (4/17/93)
* Andrew M. Greeley and Pev. Philip J. Murnion, A
Greeley Response and Fr. Murnion Replies (5/15/1993)
* Peter Steinfels, Inquiry
in Chicago Breaks Silence on Sex Abuse by Catholic Priests (2/24/92)
* Andrew M. Greeley, Priestly
Silence on Pedophilia (3/13/92)
* Canice Connors, O.F.M. Conv., Priests
and Pedophilia: A Silence That Needs Breaking? (5/9/92)
* Commonweal Editorial, Priests
& Sex (11/20/92)
* Gene G. Abel and Nora Harlow, Child
Molestation Prevention Study (4/02) [includes a summary of the study
to which Greeley refers]
* Boston Globe, Reporting
on James R. Porter (5/8/92-7/14/02)
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