The problem of sexual abuse by priests and brothers has been internal within the Catholic Church for many years. Centuries-old church documents repeatedly warn of this evil and caution bishops to conceal sex abuse from parishioners in order to avoid damaging the Church’s reputation. In recent years, further evidence of the Church’s knowledge, concealment, and reassignment of pedophilic clergy members has continued to surface, and children within the Church continue to be victimized. This abuse has stretched beyond Catholic dioceses to religious orders, including: the Christian Brothers, the Paulist Fathers, the Franciscans, the Redemptorists, the Jesuits, the Servites, and others.
Victims of child sexual abuse are often unable to come forward and report their abuse for many years. Because priests (as well as monsignors, bishops, brothers, nuns, and other similar religious leaders) hold positions of sacred trust, victims may be confused or unable to comprehend that what happened to them was “abuse.” Perpetrators often tell victims that the abuse is part of a religious ritual. Sometimes, the child may feel threatened, or fear that no one will believe them if they report the abuse. The shame and fear victims of childhood sexual abuse experience often last long into adulthood.